When James Young has made the headlines for the Celtics over the past two seasons, it has mostly been trips between the Maine Red Claws and Celtics active rosters. Now, entering his third season since being drafted 17th overall by Boston out of Kentucky in 2014, he's about to do the unusual.
Correction: Young missed the summer league after being drafted in 2014 due to a car crash.
Young's struggles to crack the team's rotation through both his rookie and sophomore campaigns have been perplexing. In 31 career games in Maine he has flourished shooting 40.6% from three on 254 attempts and 44% from the field while averaging 18.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.3 steals. In the NBA? His shooting has been subpar: 47-138 from the field (34%) and 23-92 outside (25%). Despite a few flashes, particularly in a 2014-15 game against Charlotte and some solid minutes against Golden State in December, he has been a relative non-factor.
That is the most stunning part, the utter inability of him to get involved on the court in any manner. In 2015-16 Brad Stevens seemed to cycle through handing opportunities to the four youngest players on the roster. When Young got his turns, his activity on defense wavered, he seemed stagnant off the ball offensively, and struggled to get on the boards.
It's a shame. There was certainly potential there. He was a stud in college, and there was a reason Simmons pumped his fist when Boston grabbed him. Instead he has managed to infuriate CelticsBlog founder Jeff Clark and has prompted many fans to wish the team grabbed Rodney Hood (13.6 career PER compared to Young's 6.7) with the 17th pick instead.
Then there was this.
That night was absolutely wild. Young hit everything he threw up from anywhere. The Garden was alive. A 20-point deficit evaporated to a 7-point one on Young's firepower alone. It truly looked like the team had found something special in the scoring realm. He never did anything remotely close again.
Now Young will join a large class of 2016 rookies along with R.J. Hunter, Jordan Mickey, and Terry Rozier in Las Vegas. Players in their third season typically opt to workout on their own over the summer and leave the Summer League to their younger counterparts, although Kelly Olynyk raised some eyebrows last summer when he joined the Celtics in Utah, but he only ended up training rather than participating in games.
Olynyk had a choice as Young did, but the latter is in a completely different circumstance. In fact with another influx of youth talent coming the team's way this fall—especially if they're unable to stash the international duo—he could be playing for his career in green.
Here's to Young. He'll need quite the showing to break through at this point, but at least he has the opportunity. It'd be quite the story if he did.