James Young looking to make impression in sophomore campaign
James Young did not have the rookie year that he expected. A preseason car accident left him with whiplash that resulted in him missing last year's summer league, a pulled hamstring caused him to miss much of training camp, and a separated shoulder suffered in December while playing for the C's D-League affiliate in Maine forced him to miss some of the regular season. Those factors, along with Young being 19 years old, had him playing catch up for the entire season. As a result he never really got his footing on the Celtic roster.
Young was signed and recalled 11 times to the D-League, and while there he seems to have made the most of it. He was dominant at times putting up 21.5 ppg and shooting 44% from 3-point range, highlighted by making 9 3's in a game in February. The 76ers D-League head coach went as far as to call Young the best player he has seen in his 8 years in the D-League.
While we saw glimpses of Young's talent on the Celtics roster, he more piqued our interest than proved his metal. Seeing him in limited time has many Celtic fans excited about Young's future prospects, but also very curious.
For starters, we know Young doesn't come off as a very emotional player on the court. His demeanor comes off as cool and unfazed. Some interpret that as disinterest, but it isn't. It's also the demeanor of a 19 year old showing proper deference to his older and more established teammates. That cool persona often belies the effort that is being put out, and according to Forsberg effort is something that Young is no stranger to.
Here's what most haven't seen: If the Celtics maintained a leaderboard for offseason hours in the gym, Young would be near the top. A familiar presence since the end of the season, he often engages in two-a-day sessions at the team's training facility. The results? He's carrying 15 pounds of additional muscle, has trimmed his body fat and has added three inches to his vertical over the past year, the fruits of a newfound dedication to the weight room.
That sounds like someone who learned from his rookie year and is trying to absolutely maximize his next opportunity. Adding the muscle was done with the intention of being able to guard multiple positions, something that is valued by coach Brad Stevens, and will be valued more than ever by the NBA since Golden State just defended their way to a championship with a roster full of players geared to do that.
The team is still excited about Young. He turns 20 in August, and the Celtics believe he would be a lottery pick if he had stayed in school and entered the draft this year. He is also younger than the majority of this years draftees will be. If you use that perspective the C's just got their lottery pick for this year. Young has been working hard since the end of the year, and has an eye on making a serious impression in summer league.
"You don't even know," Young said. "I just want to go out there and just play my heart out. I want to treat summer league like it's the season, and just go out there and play. Me and a couple guys have been in here grinding since the season has been done with and we can't wait to just show our talents."
Though still young, a trying rookie season may have been a maturing experience for Young, and hopefully one that spurred him to take this season on as a personal challenge. Everyone who has seen him play knows how good of a shooter he is, this year we'll hopefully find out more.