At 20 years old, James Young is still so ...young.
But there's a lot of young guys on the team and there are some new young guys that could threaten to pass him up on the depth chart (R.J. Hunter) or push him off the 15 man roster entirely (Perry Jones III). So there's some real pressure on James Young to show in camp and preseason that he belongs in the NBA and deserves to be a part of the Celtics plans going forward.
Last year was a bit of a humbling experience for Young. He was injured in camp, spent a lot of time shuttling to Maine to play in the D-League, and generally didn't play a lot of meaningful minutes for the Boston Celtics. He looked passive on offense and completely lost on defense. He's hoping that a summer of hard work and a fresh start in camp will turn things around for him.
"With the injuries and not playing and going back and forth to the D-League, it does affect your confidence a little bit," said Young, who was selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2014 draft by Boston. "But for me, the big thing is being healthy. I feel good about my chances out there when I’m healthy."
So far he's saying and doing the right things. According to him he added 20 lbs. of muscle over the summer (and kept it) and he already has a better understanding of where he needs to be on defense.
‘My footwork is a lot better, I know what to do now,’ said Young. ‘Pulling over, communicating, everything is working a lot better now. I know what to do now, I didn’t know then but now I know.’ Celtics head coach Brad Stevens talked about Young’s progress at yesterday’s media day. ‘He’s really improved his defensive abilities,’ said Stevens. ‘His defensive awareness was great in summer league and he’s a guy that we know offensively has some skill and some talent. The other thing about James that I’m excited about is he’s bigger and stronger and he’s only 20 years old.
In addition to Brad's positive comments, we've heard some good things about Young from Danny Ainge.
There's definitely talent there and he now has a full year of being a professional basketball player under his belt. If he can prove that he's capable of contributing in the near future, he might end up being a great part of the team going forward. Don't forget that Avery Bradley spent nearly an entire season as a spectator before contributing to the team and becoming a valuable starting shooting guard. Perhaps Young's career will have a similar arc.
James hasn't hit the 3 point shot with great success thus far, but he has the tools to be an excellent shooter and that's a skill that the team could really use on the court this year.
On the other hand, if Young still has trouble picking up the defense and doesn't prove that he's willing to put in the work to keep improving, then he might find himself leaving Waltham by November.