Another Los Angeles Lakers preseason game, another fantastic performance from Nick Young. The mercurial Lakers guard dropped 19 points on the Golden State Warriors on an efficient 7-13 shooting, and while it wasn't enough for Los Angeles to come away with the win, it was the latest reason for many to ask: "Are the Lakers Nick Young's team now?"
Okay, fine, so no one is asking that. However, Young's impressive performances during the exhibition season so far have at the very least dispelled the questions over why the Lakers are still Nick Young's team (as in, why they continue to employ him).
Young has played some of the best defense of his career and shot the lights out for the Lakers so far, sorely needed elements for a team lacking in players who can do either. Not bad for a player most assumed was nearly guaranteed to be paid to go away by the end of camp.
Perhaps the best endorsement of Young's performance is that he's even done enough that Lakers fans aren't asking the team to leave head coach Luke Walton in San Diego for making this comment after their loss to the Warriors:
"He's playing as well as anyone on our team, if not the best on our team honestly" - Luke on Nick Young— Drew Garrison (@DrewGarrisonSBN) October 20, 2016
Luke Walton calls Nick Young (19 pts) one of LA's best players this preseason: "He was messing with Kevin Durant tonight. That's not easy."— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 20, 2016
Young ranks third on the team in scoring with 13.2 points per game this preseason, and he’s shot a team-high (and completely insane) 73 percent true-shooting percentage (which accounts for the added value of three-pointers and free-throws). Speaking of threes, Young has shot 54.3 percent from behind the arc, which is also good for best on the team in that category.
That level of shooting may not be sustainable, and it remains to be seen if Young’s defensive effort wanes once his roster spot is secure or the team hits its first big losing skid. For now, though, he has the right attitude:
Nick Young: “I came in here prepared with the mindset going out there whatever happens, happens. Leave it all out there.” (via @SpectrumSN)— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) October 20, 2016
Nick Young: “It helps, like I said, I keep harping coach got my back and instilling confidence in me and all of us.” (via @SpectrumSN)— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) October 20, 2016
Nick Young on defense: “I know that’s what keeps me out there. Try my hardest to do what I gotta do out there, really.” (via @SpectrumSN)— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) October 20, 2016
We’ll see if Young turns back into a pumpkin when the regular season begins, but for now he continues to be the preseason’s biggest surprise.
All stats per NBA.com. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.