OAKLAND – More than eight months ago, a contingent of Steve Kerr, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant traveled to Los Angeles to pitch then-free agent Nick Young on their organization.
Youngs ability to score in bunches, combined with a free flowing personality seemed to mesh with the Warriors philosophy. However, the 10-year veteran has struggled to integrate into the offensive scheme this season, averaging a career low in points (7.3).
Now, with second-year guard Patrick McCaw out with a lumbosacral bone bruise Young is hoping to both sure up the backup shooting guard role while finding his shooting stroke in time for the playoffs.
Young found his shot in Saturday nights 126-120 loss to the Pelicans, scoring eight points on three of four shooting.
Nick was good tonight, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. He gave us good minutes, he knocked down some shots in the first half.
Efficient shooting nights have been hard to come by for Young this season. Aside from Youngs opening-night performance of 23 points against the Houston Rockets, a game in which he hit six three-pointers, Young has struggled to fit into the Warriors system. Since the All-Star break, Young is shooting just 36 percent from the field, including 34 percent from three-point range.
Youngs struggles forced Kerr to tinker with the backup shooting guard minutes, often swapping the veteran with second-year guard Patrick McCaw depending on the opposing matchup. After an early season matchup against the San Antonio Spurs, Kerr proclaimed second-year guard Patrick McCaw the teams backup shooting guard over Young.
It has been a long season, Young said. For me, just trying to keep my body right, its been tough trying to get my feet under me.
While Youngs offensive consistency has waned this season, his attrition has been noteworthy. As injuries to key players have piled up, Young has missed just three games and is on pace to play his most games in a regular season since his second year in the league when he played all 82 games. Last week, while battling the flu, he played 21 minutes in a 126-106 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
Weve needed him this year with all the injuries, Kerr said. Hes there for us there every night and thats an underrated quality in this league to be available each and every night.
Through his shooting struggles this season, Young has experienced one constant – the support of Kerr. Following the early season game in San Antonio, Young received a text message from his coach as he entered the team hotel.
I want you to enjoy this year and be a part of winning, the text read. I know its gonna be a tough stretch but just stay positive and just keep working.
As the Warriors limp towards the playoffs, Young, who will be appearing in the playoffs for just the second time in his career, is continuing to take Kerrs words to heart.
Its mentally staying ready, Young said. I know shots are going to fall. For the most part, Im just trying to stay ready for the playoffs.