After spending the summer hearing rumors that he might be waived, Nick Young has become an important part of the Lakers’ starting lineup, writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Young, who often clashed with former coach Byron Scott, jokes that he thought he would be released and playing in China by now. Instead he has been L.A.’s starter at shooting guard for the season’s first nine games, and he’s producing well enough to keep the job. Young is averaging 14.7 points per night and shooting 37% from 3-point range. New coach Luke Walton says he has also become the team’s best perimeter defender. “This is most definitely a redemption year,” said Young, who is under contract through the 2017/18 season. “That’s why I’ve been working so hard, I believe in myself, believe that I’ve got talent. There were just certain situations that made me take steps backwards.”
There’s more news out of Los Angeles:
- Walton has been the reason for the Lakers’ hot start, contends Mark Heisler of The Orange County Register. The columnist points out that the roster hasn’t changed much from last season’s 17-65 group. L.A. signed free agents Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov over the offseason, but the real reason for the Lakers’ success is the improvement of players like Young, Lou Williams and the young core of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. Heisler says that can be traced to Walton and the offense he brought over from Golden State.
- Walton knows a few things about creating an effective reserve unit for the Lakers, writes Mark Medina of The Orange County Register. Walton was part of the “Bench Mob” on successful L.A. teams nearly a decade ago, and he has infused that same attitude into this year’s squad. “It was an identity we built for ourselves,” Walton said. “We hope that they take pride and build their own identity. What they’re doing is special right now.” A key part of that unit is Clarkson, who has accepted a reserve role after signing a four-year, $50MM deal over the summer. Clarkson ranks seventh in scoring among NBA bench players with 14.2 points per game.