Sixers player evaluation: Nick Young

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Sixers player evaluation: Nick Young

Nick Young

Position: Guard

Status: Unrestricted free agent

Signature game of 2012-13
In mid-December, Young scored a season-high 30 points against the Lakers at Wells Fargo Center. He took 23 shots that evening, 12 of which were three-pointers. In the locker room afterward, Young gave a grinning interview about his offensive prowess. The Sixers had just lost by double digits.

Young in 2012-13
Young seems to believe in a literal interpretation of his job description. He’s a shooting guard. That’s pretty much all he is -- a guard who shoots. He has never appeared willing nor capable of doing much more.

Young averaged 10.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists. That last figure is laughably low for a guard who played 23.9 minutes per game -- and yet it was the most assists he’s averaged in a single season in his entire career. That tells you a lot about Young.

So, he’s a shooting guard. Except for a guard who shoots so much his production was mostly useless. Consider his splits:

In wins: Averaged 7.8 field goal attempts and 9.2 points. Hit 41.9 percent from the field and 30.9 percent from three-point range.

In losses: Averaged 10.1 field goal attempts and 11.6 points. Hit 41 percent from the field and 38.8 percent from three-point range.

Notice that he scored more and shot better from distance in losses. And this might be the most damning stat of all: Of his 10 best scoring outings, the Sixers lost seven.

That’s Nick Young. He’s a guy who puts up points, often in garbage time or in defeat.

Here are some more (not-so) fun facts about Young: He took 542 shots to score 628 points. While that’s not quite a one-to-one ratio, it’s really close. Any coach or hoops observer on any level -- pro, college, high school, or even rec league -- will tell you that a one-to-one shot-to-point ratio is a glaring sign of bad basketball.

Not surprisingly, Young’s player efficiency rating was just 217th in the NBA. And his minus-3.1 Net48 (a calculation of the team’s average plus-minus with him on the floor for a full game) further proves that the Sixers were better off with him on the bench.

Young missed 23 games -- four because of a toe injury and seven more because of an ankle issue. And the other 12 games? Those were DNP-CDs, otherwise known as Did Not Play -- Coach’s Decision. As sports-related acronyms go, nothing could be a bigger indictment.

Which brings us to our final mind-melting Young fact: He made $6 million last season. That means the Sixers paid him $878,048.78 to sit on the bench and watch during those 12 DNP-CDs.

When you’re done sobbing, be sure to share the tissues with your neighbor.

Prospectus
Young plays little or no defense. Depending on the day and the opponent, he’s a poor and/or unwilling passer. He doesn’t rebound well. And he has to shoot far too many times to post his unspectacular per-game point total.

Beyond that, even for a shooting guard, Young relies too much on his jumpshot, which is wildly inconsistent. A staggering 88 percent of his shots were jumpers. Only 10 percent were taken in close, and only two percent were dunks. Because he doesn’t get near the basket or draw contact very often, Young averaged just 2.2 free throw attempts per game.

To put it in Josh Harris parlance, the ROI on Young was almost nonexistent. Unless Young repays the $6 million the Sixers essentially gave him as a gift, there’s no way the organization should consider re-signing him.

On Nick Young
“I can play defense. I like offense.”

--Nick Young, January 15, 2013

“I told him when we got him that my goal as his coach was to make him a more polished player. Not ‘Swaggy P’ and the act, but a player.”

--Doug Collins, January 31, 2013

Brett Brown understands Nerlens Noel trade, caught off guard by Ben Simmons news

Brett Brown understands Nerlens Noel trade, caught off guard by Ben Simmons news

Nerlens Noel was essentially the beginning of The Process.

Acquired in a draft day trade with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013, he was the last player remaining from when Brett Brown took over as head coach of the Sixers. Drafted No. 6 overall out of Kentucky, Noel missed the entire 2013-14 season recovering from a torn ACL.

That gave Brown the opportunity to work closely with Noel, most notably on his shot.

"Personally, I spent a lot of time with him," Brown said pregame Friday. "To have a whole year where you could help grow his shot. And talk about a total rebuild."

Noel on Thursday was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for a top-18 protected first-round pick, Justin Anderson and Andrew Bogut. The return doesn't seem great, but there are larger factors at play. Noel is slated to become a restricted free agent this summer.

With the emergence of Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor on the roster, the center position was (and still is, frankly) crowded. The chances of the Sixers retaining Noel weren't great. Especially if a team had signed him to an exorbitant offer sheet.

Brown was naturally close to Noel, but understands the business side of the decision.

"I'm happy for him in my heart of hearts," Brown said. "[The Mavericks] have brought him in to grow him to try to be a starting center. That does equal a commensurate paycheck. He will be rewarded if that's the way it plays out.

"That wasn't gonna happen here. It wasn't gonna happen here. And so when you really study salary caps, really study design of teams and really study how to grow a program so you're not caught positionally, it was gonna be hard to allocate that amount of money to a five spot."

Brown got some more tough news when he learned No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons won't play this season. A scan taken Thursday revealed that Simmons' Jones fracture, suffered in early October on the last day of training camp, has not fully healed (see story).

Brown, being the consummate optimist, brought up his experience with Noel in is his rookie season of how a player can still develop despite not getting on the court.

"I'm disappointed for lots of reasons that he isn't going to be able to play," Brown said. "I played text tag with him as he was going to the scan. I felt like when your wife is having a baby, pacing around, wondering, 'What's gonna happen? What's the result of the scan? What's it gonna be? What's it gonna be?' I don't mean to get too dramatic, but there's a level of anxiety that you wonder, 'What is the result gonna say?' And when it came back with the result, it caught me off guard. It really wasn't something personally I was expecting."

Sixers president of basketball operation Bryan Colangelo addressed the media Friday to disclose the news on Simmons. He also explained his thinking behind the Noel trade, which mostly hinged on Noel's impending restricted free-agent status (see story).

Brown was sad to see one of his original developmental projects go, but understood the business side of the decision.                     

"I thought he did a really good job," Brown said of Colangelo's press conference. "That is the truth. So it's connected with emotion and reality that we say goodbye to Nerlens."

Jahlil Okafor relieved deadline has passed; Bryan Colangelo explains why no trade

Jahlil Okafor relieved deadline has passed; Bryan Colangelo explains why no trade

Jahlil Okafor is still a Sixer.

He's not a New Orleans Pelican or a Portland Trail Blazer or a Dallas Maverick. He's not going back home to Chicago or to Indiana to play with Paul George. He's in Philly for at least the next 26 games and he's ready to get to work.

"I was happy that the trade deadline was over with and I knew where I'd be finishing the rest of the season," Okafor said. "After the past couple weeks I couldn't wait until 3 o'clock yesterday would pass, which means I wouldn't have to worry about where I would be and have to deal with all the trade rumors.

"It's a sigh of relief. I'm glad it's over with. I'm still a Sixer so I'm excited about playing tonight."

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo on Friday spoke at length about the team's future. He's said he's planning to build around the team's "transformational players" in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

He also addressed the deal that sent Nerlens Noel to Dallas for a protected first-round pick, Justin Anderson and Andrew Bogut. With all of the rumors swirling around Okafor, there wasn't much chatter around Noel.

The biggest reason for Noel's departure is his contract. Noel is set to become a restricted free agent this summer. He's a desirable player in today's NBA as a big that can run the floor and offer elite rim protection. Okafor can't become a restricted free agent until 2019.

Colangelo said there was a market for Okafor, but he just couldn't find the right deal.

"The market dictates what’s there and interestingly given our situation with the multiple talented bigs I think it's safe to say people view us as a place to come if they are looking for a big," Colangelo said. "Several bigs were out there and available on the market. A trade went down early. (Jusuf) Nurkic going to Portland. There was some conversation with Jahlil early, some advanced discussions to the point we pulled him out of a game situation just because there was so much at stake given the terms of a proposed transaction."

It seems like Okafor has been on the trade block since the day he was drafted third overall in 2015. With Embiid's emerging as a star and Noel's being the team's longest-tenured big, it had been difficult to see Okafor's long-term fit with the Sixers.

To Okafor's credit, he's taken it all in stride. As Colangelo alluded to, he had "advanced" talks on a deal that would send Okafor to Portland. The talks got serious enough to where Okafor was held out of a win over the Heat and began the handshaking ritual of a player on the move. He was also held out of the next game in Charlotte.

Through all of it, Okafor wasn't bitter. He just quietly kept working.

"I never looked at me being shopped as a negative thing," Okafor said. "It's just part of the business... I am here so there are no hard feelings or anything like that. No, not at all.

"I never felt disconnected from the team. When I wasn't traveling with the team I was still here in the facility with [Embiid and Simmons]. I was never just at home alone or anything like that. I was still with the team. Some of the coaches would stay back so I always felt connected with the Sixers."

Okafor will get his first action of the second half of the season tonight against the Wizards. He's been dealing with knee soreness, a result of a surgery to repair a torn meniscus last March. He said Friday afternoon that he's feeling healthy after the All-Star Break and the Rising Stars Challenge.

After all the speculation and rumors, Okafor just wants to play basketball.

"I think it's something a lot of players in the NBA have to deal with," he said. "We're all basketball players. We want to play well for ourselves and for our team.

"Whatever happens in a few months, we'll see what happens then. Right now I'm just worried about playing these last 26 games and playing well for the city and playing well for the team. "