It still feels like the Celtics hit the jackpot when they drafted Kentucky’s James Young with the 17th overall pick in this summers draft. In many ways, Young is exactly the type of prospect the Celtics need on their roster; a scoring wing brimming with offensive potential and a great outside shot. On a side note, James Young just celebrated his 19th birthday on August 16th making him the second youngest player in his draft class. Even if Young doesn’t develop into an All-Star caliber player or become a regular in the Celtics’ rotation, the motive for drafting him is very beneficial. The Celtics will be continuing the rebuilding course because they missed out on landing Kevin Love this past weekend and are looking into the future. It won’t take a decade to see James Young reach his full potential and he won’t even be 23 years old by the time his rookie contract expires. The main question is, where does he fit onto this jam-packed Celtics roster?
The Celtics are in desperate need of shooting and offense. They need players that can take the ball off the dribble, get to the free throw line, finish in transition and space the floor. James Young meets all of those areas of need and for the fact that is only 19 years old heading into the season is an added bonus. What the Celtics need immediately is someone that can take the offense by storm. The Celtics finished last season as one of four teams that couldn’t average one point per possesion (Chicago, Philadelphia and Orlando are the other teams). The Celtics only shot 33.3 percent from 3-point range last season as well (Detroit and Philadelphia were worse than Boston).
Despite James Young can make an immediate scoring impact for the Celtics, his 3-point shooting percentage in his lone season at Kentucky wasn’t anything to brag and boast about. Young didn’t shoot the 3-pointers too much, but shot 34.9 percent last season in an average of 6 attempts per game. Crazy but true statistic is the fact that Young made the 5th most 3-pointers in the entire SEC last season. The relatively low 3-point shooting percentage didn’t change Danny Ainge’s mind when it was Boston’s opportunity to land Young at the 17th slot. This is what Ainge said of James Young after selecting him back in June.
“He was a good shooter all throughout his high school life. He didn’t shoot the ball well this year as he has in the past but he shot the ball great in the NCAA Tournament. We know he’s a good shooter. He’s got a good athletic body, good size, good length for a small forward and we think he’s a prototypical small forward.”
DraftExpress.com really sold James Young on how capable of a great NBA player he could turn out to be. His height and long arms allow him to rise up over smaller defenders to get good looks above the rim. He has experience spotting up as opposed to taking more difficult shots off the dribble and was especially dangerous in transition. The Celtics should look to run in transition a lot more next season. Young’s catch and shoot ability could really come in handy, especially being paired next to Rajon Rondo.
Being realistic on where James Young fits into Brad Stevens’ rotation, he is unfortunately behind the other rookies because he missed the Summer League in Orlando with a concussion. It’s going to be easier said than done fitting Young into both the shooting guard and small forward positions that he is used to playing because of logjams at both positions. Jeff Green will be the starting small forward without a doubt, leaving Young to battle both Evan Turner and Gerald Wallace for the backup position. Similar scenario at shooting guard with Avery Bradley obviously starting, Marcus Smart will have the upper hand as his backup and Marcus Thornton will be battling for the backup role as well.
James Young’s rookie season may not be his finest moment trying to crack a role in Boston’s rotation, especially if everybody stays healthy all throughout the season. There have been debates regarding whether Young should begin the season in Boston or if he should begin the season for the D-League Affiliate Maine Red Claws. Young will go through many growing pains in his rookie season, but anything positive we see out of him will be a huge plus.