Is now the time to #FreeYoung?

James Young dunking on the 76ers in the preseason.
As the Celtics fight through the second year of a rebuilding process, there's a case to be made that getting our young players extended NBA minutes could expedite their development. Boston is well under .500 right now and owns an offense that has slipped to the bottom third of the league in efficiency. This would be the opportune time to give our young players some real minutes in the league. That mentality has started an uproar of fans upset about James Young’s role on the team. The 19 year-old Young was the 17th overall pick in the 2014 draft, and is a notoriously deadly scorer with a very high ceiling. Young’s scoring abilities have been compared to future Hall of Famer Ray Allen’s, yet he has hardly played in the NBA. Throughout this season so far, Young has played in just 5 games and averages 3.6 minutes in each. In any season, let alone one we are bound to lose, 3.6 minutes per game is ridiculous.

Recently Young has been “developing” in Maine on our D-League team the Red Claws. Through just 8 games in Maine, Young has become the teams first scoring option and currently leads the team in points per game. The Claws are 7-1 in the eight games James Young has played with them, and he regularly brings something special to their offense. He is always seen as a threat on the floor as he can finish above the rim as well as step out to hit 3-pointers. Few argue Young’s offensive prowess, but admittedly his defense leaves much to be desired. The Celtics have been recently quoted saying that they are looking to develop Young into an all-around player, not just a scoring machine. While I agree that defense is important, I am under the impression that the best way to hone a players skills is through minutes in the league. There is an immense skill gap between regular D-League players and NBA players, meaning Young’s defensive preparations on the Red Claws may not translate to the NBA. The best way to shape this player is to throw him into the fire. Now is as good a time as any for a young player to develop, especially one who is an exceptional scorer.

At this point in the rebuild, I do not care about Young’s defensive deficiencies, and the Celtics should not either. The thought of James Young (Strong Offensive Player) and Avery Bradley (Strong Defensive Player) playing side by side is an intriguing one, as they would compliment each other perfectly.

Even Rajon Rondo, a 4 time all-star and the former Celtics Team Captain, was recently quoted saying “I haven’t played defense in a couple of years, I’ve been able to hide a lot with Avery Bradley on the ball, helping me out, the young guy.” That “young guy” and James Young could be a powerful combo as they both develop and hone their skills side by side. Or James Young can collect dust on the Maine Red Claws as we burn a year of his 4-year contract.