Nick Young casually walked onto the court after the buzzer sounded as Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins made his substitution. Shortly after that, Young, Sixers’ 6-foot-7 guard, was spotting up on the wing for one of his long range shots. The next thing you knew he was knocking down shots with ease.
He’s a shooter with a feathery touch from the outside. It’s only the preseason, but Young has been nothing short of fantastic. It’s not hard to figure out what kind of role he will play for the Sixers this season.
“I’m going to do my best to score and play defense,” he said. “I just want to get out there and do what I do. My coaches, staff and teammates have been making me comfortable out there on the court. That’s one thing a player needs to be, is comfortable.”
Young has always been comfortable shooting the basketball. That goes all the way back to his days growing up in Los Angeles. He was a great college player at the University of Southern California. As a junior, he ranked second in the Pac-10 in scoring with a 17.5 average. He shot 52.5 percent from the field and was second in three-point percentage at 44.4.
He was an early entry in the NBA draft. He was selected by Washington with the 15th pick overall in the 2007 draft. He spent four seasons with the Wizards before they traded him to the Los Angeles Clippers as a part of a three-team trade last season. Two years ago, he averaged 17.4 points a game for the Wizards. He tallied a combined total of 14.2 points a game between the two teams.
Young also helped the Clippers land a spot in the NBA playoffs. When Lou Williams signed with the Atlanta Hawks last summer, the Sixers needed some more firepower off the bench. So they signed Young as a free agent. Collins wants to take advantage of his scoring ability.
“The big thing for me now is how to get him shots,” Collins said. “That’s my job, to figure out the scheme of things and how to get him shots. We can’t let him be out there on the floor four or five minutes without getting him shots.
“If he’s on the floor, he’s got to be a guy who puts points on the board for us. It’s me getting acclimated. We knew what Lou [wanted] and how he was going to get shots. Lou had a little bit more speed. With Nick, he wants to catch the ball in a certain area and get his own [shots]. I want to make it easier for him. I don’t want to have to have him work so hard to get his own shot.”
So far, Young is averaging 16 points a game in the preseason. He’s shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 47.8 from three-point range. He was excited when the Sixers completed a blockbuster trade for all-star center Andrew Bynum.
“You know, once I heard I really didn’t believe it,” Young said. “I came over at the right time. I’m just trying to get warmed up for the season. I’m doing a lot of conditioning. I’m getting my legs in shape.”
The Sixers open their season on Oct. 31 against the Denver Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center.