The Cleveland Cavaliers will pick No. 1 overall and No. 33 overall in the upcoming NBA draft. In the next few weeks here at Right Down Euclid, we will be profiling players the Cavaliers might consider in the 2014 NBA draft. Today, we profile Kentucky wing James Young. Click here for more draft profiles.
Tale of the Tape
Name: James Young
Wingspan: 7′ 0″
Honors: 2014 All-SEC Second Team, 2014 All-SEC Freshman Team, 2014 All-NCAA Tournament Final Four Team
2013-2014 Per Game Stats: 14.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 40.7 FG%, 35 3FG%, 70.6 FT%
James Young was part of the esteemed Kentucky freshman class put together by John Calipari, helping to lead the young Wildcats to an exhilarating NCAA Tournament run. The third youngest prospect in the upcoming draft, Young is still in the infant stages of his basketball career. He struggled with consistency in his shot and had issues defensively, but he has the size, length and shooting ability to be a contributor at the next level, especially in an up-tempo, well-spaced offense similar to Kentucky’s drive-and-kick style of play.
Young possess ideal size and length for a wing, measuring nearly six-foot seven with a seven-foot wingspan and standing reach of eight-feet, eight inches. He has decent, not elite, leaping ability but can certainly finish above the rim when he has a head of steam. Young possesses neither great lateral quickness nor explosiveness, instead using his size advantage to draw contact. He attempted 4.4 free throws in 32 minutes per game.
Young is still a young pup and has a wealth of talent, but right now he doesn’t do anything exceptionally well. His strength is scoring; he scored 20 or more points in nine games at Kentucky. He’s a good shooter when given space scoring 1.1 points per possession in catch-and-shoot situations, but was far less accurate in jump shooting settings when guarded or contested. He has a nice stroke from the left side and his size allows him to elevate over defenders. Young may be a great shooter in time, but he took a large amount of highly contested shots because of his inability to create space off the dribble. He came into the season known for his ability to shoot the basketball, however his shooting efficiency wasn’t good, as his 47 percent shooting on two-point shots ranks 39th out of 44 top NBA prospects who were in school last season. Young does a nice job attacking the paint off curls and although he has an array of floaters and runners that he can make, all too often he settles for those difficult shots instead of getting all the way to the rim. He’s apt to crash the lane and chuck up an off-balance runner with guys flying around him. He did a decent job getting to the line but must improve his success rate at the charity stripe. He’s fairly limited as a shot creator at this point, lacking shake and creativity with his handle. He’s very uncomfortable with his right-hand, so he rarely took more than a few dribbles when driving right. At this point, he’s mostly relegated to straight line. If he can make strides with his ball-handling skills, he could become the great scorer that he aspires to be. When Young’s outside shot wasn’t falling, it was difficult for him to impact the game. He’s not a particularly adept passer though he can find teammates when he wants. Yet he carries a scorer’s mentality and thus he’d rather score the basketball.
Young has the size and strength to be at least average on this end, but he struggled with his positioning and fundamentals in his only year in college. He played with good energy and can become a competent defender as he fills out his large frame along with better coaching, focus and discipline. But his below-average lateral quickness will likely hurt him as he adjusts to the athletes in the NBA. Young doesn’t create havoc on defense, racking up less than a steal per contest and just eight blocks in 40 games, poor numbers for a guy his size. He is an average rebounder from the wing position using his length to corral contested boards.
Young helped the young Wildcats overcome a slow start and absurd expectations to rip through the NCAA Tournament as an eight-seed. Effort is not an issue with Young and from all accounts, he is well-liked and considered a mature young man. In an interview before last season, he offered to come off the bench if necessary, which illustrates the type of person he is.
Young’s game has some similarities to Nick Young, aka Swaggy P, of the Los Angeles Lakers. Both possess great size but are prone to taking contested shots and are erratic with their perimeter shooting. They both are capable of scoring in bunches or disappearing if the jump shot isn’t falling. Young also reminds some of a bigger, more athletic Michael Redd, another sweet-stroking lefty who was a premier scorer in his prime. Young has a long way to go before he is an elite scorer, but his talent is undeniable and if he is committed to being the best player he can be, he has a chance to be a high-volume scorer in the league.
How Does He Fit on the Cavaliers?
Since Dan Gilbert is obsessed with trying to make the playoffs at all costs, I’m not sure he has the patience to wait for a guy like James Young, who won’t be 19 until August and likely will take at least a few seasons to scratch the surface of the player he could be down the road. The Cavaliers are in need of a young wing player who can shoot, regardless if they decide to bring back Luol Deng. Either way, I don’t think Young is a great fit in Cleveland. Young fashions himself as a scorer but the Cavs already have two ball-dominant guards in Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Young is projected to go in the late lottery or mid-first round, so if the Cavs acquire a mid-first round pick in a trade, he could be a target otherwise he will not be there when the Cavs are on the clock early in the second round.