Weeks ago Danny Ainge said that this would be a big few weeks for James Young. He's had since the end of the Celtics' season to work on his body and his game and he's got a great opportunity to show his coaches that he's making progress. So far the results all seem to be positive.
Young, the 17th overall pick last season, has packed on the weight -- he said he's up to 220 pounds -- and is eager to show the strides made behind the scenes in the D-League last season (and in the weight room since the season ended). There's a lot of optimism in the Celtics' organization that Young could make a leap to important rotation player this season. Remember, he's still only 19 years old (and the youngest player on the Celtics' summer squad by 13 months).
Keep in mind that we've still got a few more months in the offseason for him to keep working on his body and game.
Young looks . . . different. "Yeah, I mean way different just from a physical standpoint," said Stevens. "He’s bigger, stronger. "I think he’s got a much better feel for how the game is played. I think he has a much better understanding of where he can be impactful on both ends. I’m encouraged by his play, and I’m intrigued to see him play.
I'm sure some of that is simple maturity. This kid is growing into a man. But I think we have to give credit to his (apparently) increased work ethic.
Smart entered the NBA with that mindset. The other Celtics returner on the summer club, James Young, needed work in that category, but appears to have adopted a new mentality over the offseason. Incredibly, Young remains the youngest player on the summer league squad -- younger than all eight rookies. He has been hardened by his professional experience, though, and indicated his work ethic is now better than ever. The lefty stopped using social media to "put aside" the distraction and claims he has gained 20 pounds of muscle in a quest to improve his physicality.
These all seem like positive signs. Of course the Celtics just drafted a guy in R.J. Hunter that could challenge Young for playing time. Or perhaps one of them will be headed elsewhere as part of a trade package.
Regardless, James Young has a lot of talent and could be in store for a big step forward this season.