Prospecting: James Young

Kentucky’s James Young has one spectacular skill, and it has to do with Rihanna. Curious? Read on…

I had debated whether to do a writeup of James Young, mostly because most mock drafts seemed to have him coming off the board in the mid-teens, but recent mocks have him falling below 20, and I’m not surprised. Young is type of player that often falls in the draft.

He’s got decent size for the wing position, with a very good 7 foot wingspan, comparing favourably to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but he’s certainly not in a Kawhi Leonard class, so he’s going to be pretty average, size-wise, for the small forward position, which features giants like Kevin Durant, LeBron James and even Nicolas Batum. And, at this point, I’m not sure he has the ball handling skills to be able to play shooting guard in the NBA.

He does have skills, but there really isn’t one that jumps out at you.

He’s a pretty good shooter, but his percentages both from inside and outside the arc aren’t going to impress anyone, especially considering Young didn’t exactly have to carry Kentucky’s offense by forcing up shots.

He’s a pretty good rebounder for his size, but he’s not going to overwhelm anyone with his work on the boards.

He’s also a decent, but unspectacular athlete who can get up and throw down on occasion, but generally plays below the rim and away from the basket. He’s got an NBA body right now, but doesn’t often actually use it.

In fact, the only real spectacular thing about James Young is his ability to surreptitiously do this…

Celebrities Attend The Toronto Raptors  Vs Brooklyn Nets - April 25, 2014

That’s not to say being unspectacular is a weakness. It’s not, especially for a role player.

Young’s ability to shoot, score and rebound are things most teams love in wing players. Plus, the fact that’s he’s just 19 and the third youngest player in the draft. He had some pretty big scoring games as a freshman at Kentucky but could be also be wildly inconsistent, as well. And if you haven’t got any overwhelming skills, most teams would at least like to see some consistency.

And then there’s that other side of the court, which Young too often struggles at. It’s not that Young is a disinterested defender, although that often seems to be the case. The problem is that Young doesn’t seem to “get” defense and even when he tries, can easily be beaten off the dribble by guys who should never be able to do that. Whether he’s defending the ball or away from it, it’s pretty much the same result. He lacks awareness and has poor defensive instincts.

Young’s defense should and could improve, with the right coaching staff, but he’s probably never going to be a plus defender, or possibly even an average one.

And while he is young, it’s not as if he’s got a whole lot of upside, which is why teams are so interested in younger players. He’s just a decent athlete and doesn’t have an explosive game scouts like to see in young players with upside. He should be able to score in the NBA, but his lack of bal handling and quickness means he will probably have trouble creating his own shot against the quicker, taller defenders in the NBA.

That said, in the right situation, his shooting and scoring ability could come in quite handy.

Is that right situation Toronto?

The Raptors could definitely use his outside shooting and scoring, something highlighted in the playoffs, but he shares a lot of the same weaknesses as DeMar DeRozan has (over-reliance on his jumper, lack of lateral mobility and defensive awareness) without DeRozan’s ability to draw fouls.

I’m not sure you want DeRozan and Young on the court together at the same time, so unless DeRozan is moved on draft night, I’m not sure the logic in taking Young, unless he’s clearly the best player available.

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