He’s back, the starting shooting guard from a season ago signed his 3.7 million dollar qualifying offer to return to the team from this season, but how does he fit in this season? What does his future look like in a Wizards uniform? Can we expect him to improve his overall game? Let’s find out as we preview Nick Young’s 2011-2012 season.
A season ago Nick Young put up a career year in his contract year with an average of 17.4 points per game and highlighted by games against the Sacramento Kings on January 11th where he had 43 points and at Miami where he put up 38 points on February 25th. Nick’s ability to score the basketball hasn’t been questioned since he came into the league, but the 2010-2011 was a perfect storm for Nick. He got the opportunity to start 40 games and took over for Gilbert Arenas in the starting lineup after Arenas was dealt to Orlando in December. More playing time, a green light to shoot whenever, the motivation of a contract year, and playing along side a talented young point guard in John Wall led to Nick Young’s best season as a pro.
After the lockout was lifted and free agency opened up on December 9th, Young was hoping to sign an offer sheet with a team as a restricted free agent, and he was reportedly hoping to get 9 million a year. Needless to say that was a little too ambitious of Nick and his agent, and teams reportedly just assumed the Wizards would match their offer sheet to Nick Young anyway. So instead of ending up elsewhere, he officially signed his one year qualifying order on December 19th and returned here to Washington, DC for 3.7 million dollars this season, but that doesn’t mean he’s happy about it. “I’m just taking it out on the league”, he told the media on his first day back with the Wizards. Later on he would say, “I’m not going to sit back and pout. Nobody owes nobody nothing”. That’s better, Nick. The fact remains that he’ll receive a paycheck of 3.7 million dollars this season and has another opportunity to enter unrestricted free agency next season.
On Monday, Nick’s first day back, he was working mainly behind Jordan Crawford according to most reports, which should be expected. Nick missed the entire training camp and the debacle of a first preseason game too, but I fully expect we see Nick Young starting on December 26th in the backcourt with John Wall. Missing training camp will hurt Nick’s conditioning more than anything else as he’s already familiar with the players and system. Most importantly, the return of Nick Young also allows second year combo guard Jordan Crawford to resort back to the role of the sixth man and provide scoring off the bench, which is the role he’s best suited for.
Going forward beyond the 2011-2012 season, the future for Nick Young in DC is a lot more bleak. As Mike Prada of BulletsForever.com noted, since 1999 only ten players have signed their qualifying offers as restricted free agents and the following season, they signed elsewhere. We know team president Ernie Grunfeld was discussing a long-term extension with Nick Young prior to him accepting the qualifying offer, but it’s all but a given that Nick Young will look to test the free agent market next summer, then as an unrestricted free agent.
Personally, I’m all for Nick Young leaving in free agency following the season. Remove his ability to score twenty points plus on any given night for your team, and what does he give you? Over Young’s career he averages 1 assist, 1.8 rebounds, half a steal, and 1 turnover per game. Nick Young’s value comes from scoring the basketball. Further diminishing his value, is his lack of consistent defense. A season ago Nick took a step forward as an on-ball defender to become average, but struggled to maintain focus in team defense. It’s hard to expect much different this season either. Nick is who he is, and that was a major reason for the lack of interest teams had in him as a restricted free agent.
As nice as his ability to score is, his lack of versatility and inability to offer anything else of substance will continue to limit his value on the open market and while I’m okay with Nick being back this season, because of his major limitiations I will not support giving him a long-term extension. Let Nick play this season out, and then let him walk in free agency.
Twitter: @Kevin_Hine and @WizOfAwesKevin