Situational Statistics: the 2014 Small Forward Crop
June 20, 2014
-James Young isn't particularly impressive here. He led the nation in spot-up possessions used, but his .93 points per possession overall ranks below average, while his 14.8 possessions per-game sits right around the sample mean. Young relied more heavily on jump shots than any player in this group, scoring a slightly above average 1.01 point per jump shot. Though Young had some impressive moments finishing around the rim this season, he scored a 4th-to-last 1.13 points per shot at the basket in the half court. Looking ahead, Young's impressive skill and extreme youth should help him continue to grow into a capable perimeter scorer, but he'll need to shore up his shot selection to improve his efficiency and may experience some growing pains if he isn't able to make some adjustments early on.
Footage of James Young working out in preparation for the 2014 NBA Draft in Los Angeles, with an interview discussing what he's working on, his contact with former Kentucky teammates, the support he receives from BBN, his strengths as a player, who he models his game after, what he needs to improve on and more.
James Young: The Kentucky swingman measured well for a wing at 6-6 ¾ with shoes to go along with a 7-foot wingspan and an 8-8 standing reach and 5.1 percent body fat. Young compares favorably to his namesake and 2007 draftee Nick Young (6-6 ¾, 206 pounds, 7-foot wingspan).
Scouting Report by Matt Kamalsky. Video Breakdown by Mike Schmitz
James Young lived up to his billing as one of the top freshmen in college basketball during his lone year at Kentucky, earning a spot on the All-SEC Second Team and All-NCAA Tournament Final Four Team during Kentucky's postseason turnaround. Now that his college career is over, we can now take a step back and conduct an inventory of everything he displayed this season as an NBA prospect, as well as the things he still has to improve on.
Young's physical tools complement his offensive skill set, which revolves heavily around his jump shooting ability at this stage in his career. Attempting more spot up jumpers than any player in the country according to Synergy Sports Technology, the Michigan native's smooth, quick release and size helped him get his shot off over defenders at a prolific level playing in John Calipari's dribble drive offense.
As much as Young's ability to get shots off over the defense made him a dangerous scoring threat, it also limited his efficiency. Making 34.9% of his shots from beyond the arc on the year, the lefty struggled from the perimeter for long stretches, due in large part to the number of contested jump shots he attempted. Almost three-quarters of Young's 199 catch and shoot jump shots this season were defended. Connecting on 45% of his open attempts but just 32% when guarded, Young is an efficient threat given time and space that would certainly benefit from playing in an up tempo offense around established, unselfish scorers who can create that space for him early in his NBA career. Still, he will have to learn the nuances of shot-selection and decision making as he matures, and not fall into the trap or settling for the first look that becomes available like he often did as a freshman.
Seldom called upon to create one-on-one or on the pick and roll last season, Young is not very dynamic off the bounce, as his ball-handling and ability to drive right remain a work in progress. He's an opportunistic finisher in transition and can make some tough pull-up jump shots, but he doesn't always see the open man on his drives and struggled to convert inside the arc efficiently, settling for difficult floaters and forcing contested, high-degree of difficulty shots in close. As a consequence, Young ranks 65th of the 74 NCAA prospects in our Top-100 in two-point percentage. Lacking elite blow-by quickness to beat the defense to the rim and the advanced ball-handling repertoire to create separation for his pull-up jump shot consistently, Young has plenty of room to grow on the offensive end at the next level.
The same can be said for Young on the defensive end, where his lack of focus and fundamentals are limiting factors at this stage. He's a solid rebounder for his position, and plays with some energy at times, but is still figuring things out on this end of the floor. Not always getting in a stance and allowing smaller, less athletic players to get the best of him, Young's poor fundamentals, average awareness, and lack of lateral speed doesn't give him outstanding upside on this end of the floor as a pro, but he has the capacity to be more effective than he showed last year.
With all of that being said, it is important to remember that Young won't turn 19 until August. One of the youngest prospects likely to hear their name called on draft day, he showed the ability to score in bunches last season and could be intriguing to teams picking in the later part of the lottery who feel he has better upside than what he showed at times this year and that they have the right pieces in place to put him in position to round out his rough edges as he continues to mature.
We've taken a more visual look at his strengths and weaknesses thanks to game film from Kentucky in the following video scouting report, courtesy of Mike Schmitz.
-Good size for a wing, measured 6-6 ½ at the Nike Skills Academy
-Very long arms, 6-11 wingspan
-Very low, but quick release on jump-shot
-Elevates well creating separation from defender to get pull-up jumper off
-Can make shots with a hand in his face
-Just turned 17. Young for his class. Could still be growing?
-Very good potential on defense
-Makes extra pass
-Plays with good energy level. Seems to be a good teammate
Maybe will get more athletic. When in rhythm he's terrific.... Can pass.
-Good, not great athlete at this stage
-Doesn't have a great first step, nor is he an incredibly explosive leaper
-Not a great ball-handler
-Can't consistently create good shots around the basket in the half-court at a high rate yet
-Needs to improve right hand
-Can make 3-pointers but not quite a marksman just yet. Will take some bad shots on occasion
-Looks comfortable taking a back seat at times
-Lacks experience. Still figuring out how to use his talent consistently
-Gambles a lot on defense
Emerged this summer as a top-10 prospect in the class according to the recruiting services. Looks the part of a top prospect with his outstanding size, length and frame, but doesn't consistently play like one yet. Could still be growing into his frame and likely hasn't reached his peak yet athletically.