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Does James Young have the work ethic to succeed in the NBA?

He's got the skills, but does he have the mindset?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We're all looking forward to seeing which promising young players the Celtics add on draft night but there's a guy already wearing Celtics green that potentially be a promising prospect, if he puts in the right amount of time and effort.

James Young was described by one GM as a "top 10 pick" if he had stayed another year in college and entered the draft this year.  His combination of shooting touch and athleticism is enough to make fans drool.  But does he have the right mindset to take advantage of his talents?

I bring this up now because Young's former teammate at Kentucky gave what I considered to be a backhanded compliment (almost certainly unintended but still).

Celtics Workout Notes: Dakari Johnson Predicts Big Year From James Young | Boston Celtics |

"He’s just improving each and every day," Johnson said. "His work ethic has definitely gotten better since college. He just loves being in the gym now. "… I think a lot of people are going to be impressed with what they see."

In a vacuum that's a rather innocent statement that could mean nothing other than the fact that there's a difference between college and the pros.  It takes a lot more to succeed at the higher level, thus the need for more work.

Still, this isn't the first time we've heard rumblings about Young's work ethic.  Earlier in the year Gerald Wallace expressed frustration with getting through to James about what it takes to be a pro.

Young Celtics must seize moment | Boston Herald

"You know what, this whole season should be a lesson for him," Wallace said of Young. "You can pick any message you want to give him. It's up to him to pay attention. It's like talking to a parrot, you know? You can only talk for so long. Eventually he's got to understand and want it, and it's got to sink in to him. They only understand and repeat the words that they want to understand and repeat. But it is what it is."

"(Young's) got to understand what's going on here because he's got an opportunity and he's got to take advantage of it," Wallace told the Herald. "He's got to realize when his chance comes again that not only are you in a situation where there are guys that are sitting behind you waiting for their opportunity, but you've got other guys that are coming into this league next year that are looking to do the same thing.
"So you've always got to be ready and prepared when your number is called, and you can't be satisfied with just being here."

Hopefully Young got the message and has been working harder and with more focus than he was when Wallace ranted about this back in March.

To be fair, it should be pointed out that some things outside of Young's control contributed to his up and down season.

Dakari Johnson: Former teammate James Young has improved work ethic with Boston Celtics |

A predraft car accident kept him out of summer league, a hamstring injury wiped away almost his entire preseason, a dislocated shoulder struck in December, and a bad case of the flu arrived a short time later.

With that said, you can almost hear the subtle challenge in the words from the Celtics brass.

via the Boston Globe

"The summer’s big for James because he missed summer league last year and so much of training camp this year," said Ainge. "He just got behind and then he got hurt during the season so he had three setbacks this year, but we’re excited about James and I’m looking forward to working with him this summer." Despite essentially a lost rookie season for Young, Ainge said the guard is definitely part of the team’s future. "A lot of it is how fast he learns and how hard he works," he said. "We’re confident in James. His work ethic has gotten better and he’s understanding of what it takes and I think James wants to play. We have expectations that James will be a contributor next year."

"His work ethic has gotten better" is not something you'd hear about someone like say Marcus Smart.  It wouldn't sound right because that guy is what my dad would call a "monomaniac on a mission."  Not everyone is a nut like that, but you do have to be focused and serious about your craft if you want to stay long in the NBA, regardless of your talent level.

Stevens on workouts, James Young, Fred Hoiberg - Boston Celtics Blog - ESPN

And then the summer league will be a big thing for [Young]. Certainly for Marcus [Smart], too, but I think for James to really gain a lot of momentum heading into next year, I think the 20 days that we're together from practice to the last game are important."

Message sent and delivered.  We'll see how he responds.  So far, at least he's present (in the gym working out and practicing) and seems to be taking things seriously.

Celtics trying to build off 2014-15 momentum - Boston Celtics Blog - ESPN

Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge said Thursday that the team had five roster players in town for a morning workout in Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller, James Young, Phil Pressey, and Chris Babb. Marcus Smart, Brandon Bass, and Isaiah Thomas have all been in town recently and the Celtics are monitoring others as they work out from afar at the start of their offseasons. "Our coaches do a great job and our players are in and working hard," said Ainge. "We couldn’t be more pleased.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.  So we'll see how much he's worked starting in summer league.  We'll also see exactly how much the Celtics believe in him this summer.  If they do, he could be in for an increased role next season.  If not, he could be shipped elsewhere or replaced in the lineup with someone they have more confidence in.

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