The past season for the Los Angeles Lakers has been nothing short of disastrous. From injuries to firings, the purple and gold remained relatively irrelevant in the eyes of many. The absence of expectations from a team that missed their leader, Kobe Bryant, was something that the Laker fan base came to painfully accept.
With a return looming and Bryant entering his 19th season, the Lakers cannot expect to lean on Kobe alone to carry the team on his shoulders. Coming in with thousands of miles on a thirty-six year old body, that has endured numerous injuries, the Lakers would need to look to another player to carry them in a talented Western Conference. With Pau Gasol’s summer departure, there is no doubt that Nick Young aims to be the player that the Lakers would need to rely upon outside their 36-year old superstar.
After stints with the Wizards, Clippers and 76ers, Nick Young has steadily developed and proven to be a talented offensive player. With his ability to put up great scoring numbers, critics have praised Young for his offense. With that, after Bryant went down in April of 2013, the Lakers severely needed to get a player that could provide them the scoring production to compensate Bryant’s absence. Fortunately for them, they were able to sign Young to a one year contract. Nick Young went on to post career scoring numbers for the depleted Lakers team, averaging 17.9 ppg amidst the franchise’s struggles.
With a summer that led to a new contract, Nick Young will be looked upon to take the next step in his development and maturity as a player, both on and off the court. The return of Kobe Bryant will be the push that Young needs to further improve as an all around player, particularly on defense. This lack of defense, which teams exploited consistently, aims to be the top priority for Young moving forward. This is a work in progress as Bryant and Young have reportedly been working together during the offseason, as a sign of their developing relationship and chemistry.
Another aspect that Young aims to develop is his decision making. With Nick Young’s scoring talent, critics have been very particular with him specifically on his shot selection. Young is sometimes known to take questionable shots that can impact the system that a coach is trying to implement. Last year, isolation plays were too common for Young which proved problematic for the team. Byron Scott’s system can hopefully be the way for him to improve on this, as Scott did with Keith Van Horn during his New Jersey days. By utilizing his offensive gifts, taking the right shots to help the team will be a positive note for the Lakers in the long run.
With the right mindset and focus, Nick Young’s breakthrough may soon be nearer than we expect. Coupled with the right environment and system around him, there is a bright future for Lakers fans after a season of doubt and despair.