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Exit Interview: Goodbye James Young

After his second season as a Celtic, James Young has failed to develop in any meaningful way, and it might be time to move on

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

I don’t think it would surprise anyone if Boston parted ways with James Young this summer, and many would probably breathe a sigh of relief.

It might be too early in James Young’s short career to say he’s a bust. However, as a Celtic he certainly hasn’t shown much to prove otherwise.

James Young is of course, very young. Yet the age excuse only goes so far. He was brought on to the Celtics roster to add shooting depth and because he’d shown an ability to come up big in clutch situations during his college career. He has done neither in the NBA and has instead shown himself to be a liability on both ends of the floor lacking focus and composure.

After a Cinderella season as the leading scorer for the surprise NCAA finalists, the Kentucky Wildcats, many were excited to see James Young slide to the 17th spot and fall to the Celtics in the 2014 NBA Draft. Yet while James Young looked like a steal on draft day, time has shown he was anything but underrated.

Since entering the NBA, Young has regressed in almost every aspect of his game. His rookie year and subsequent season with the Celtics saw him play fairly limited minutes, but even still he did very little with the time given to him. Despite being sold to the Celtics as a sharpshooter, his overall shooting percentage was a lowly 35.5% last year and has fallen to 30.6% this season.

His once-lauded three-point shot has struggled considerably against professional competition, with Young shooting at only 25.8% from beyond the arc last season and an equally awful 23.1% this season.

Even in the D-League, where Young played 17 games last season and 14 this season, his numbers have considerably declined, with his all-important three-point percentage dropping all the way from 44.2% last season to the much less impressive 35% this season. The D-League is where players are meant to develop (it’s in the name), but James Young has seemingly gone in the wrong direction.

James Young’s failure to develop offensively is unfortunate. But on a team that hangs its hat on defensive intensity, his shortcomings on defense are almost embarrassing. After a full two years in the NBA and the D-League, Young still looks like a deer in the headlights, or perhaps more appropriately like a lamb to the slaughter.

Sure it’s a small sample size, and he’s still only 20 years old, but even compared to other prospects on Boston’s own roster, like Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier who are both only 22 years old, Young's development has been limited to say the least. Smart and Rozier have both shown energy, intensity and focus in their time on the court. Despite Smart’s shooting woes and Rozier’s limited numbers, few would say Young even comes close to the rookies on Boston’s roster. While Rozier has impressed, Hunter has intrigued, and Mickey has excited all with limited minutes, James Young continues to do little more than infuriate.

While some preached patience at the end of last season when Young had a less-than-dazzling rookie year, the time has come to accept the reality that James Young is no longer of any help to the Boston Celtics in their rebuild. With a boatload of picks and additional assets to boot, there’s virtually no reason for the Boston Celtics to hold on to James Young. His youth shouldn’t spare him, especially considering that so many other prospects could be potentially jostling for roster spots with Boston.

Particularly with this squad poised on the precipice of being true contenders, there isn’t really a rationale or the roster space to justify keeping James Young kicking around. Young still needs time to develop, and it seems unlikely he’ll get that time on an already crowded Boston roster that’s looking to add more reliable talent rather than take risks on rookies who have shown little worth. Maybe if he’s moved to a team where the expectations are lower, he can grind out some minutes on the court and develop into a more well-rounded player and tap into that potential that Danny Ainge saw on draft day.

So we could still see Young added as a sweetener to a trade deal somewhere along the line. Otherwise, he could always end up playing in international competition and possibly returning to the NBA with a bit more seasoning.

Either way, I don't think its likely we'll see Young suiting up for the Celtics next season. So for those holding out hope that Young will find his form playing in Boston, or even in Maine, I think the clock has run out, and it is time to say goodbye to James Young.

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