Here’s one example on how this year’s Lakers team appears different than last year.
For now, no one has complained about their role. Lakers forward Nick Young had the first opportunity to do so considering Xavier Henry will start tonight against the Atlanta Hawk at Staples Center and perhaps beyond. But Young still bore the same smile and giddy enthusiasm that he’s shown throughout training camp.
“That’s my man. No bad blood,” Young said of Henry. “What’s the ice skater lady?”
Young was jokingly referred to Tonya Harding, the former U.S. figure skater whose ex-husband conspired to assault competitor Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 U.S Figure Skating Championship.
“It’s cool. It’ll be all right,” Young said. “It’s too early to try to start some controversy. I’m going with the flow.”
Henry has become one of the Lakers’ most pleasant surprises, averaging 13 points on 40 percent shooting. Meanwhile, Young has averaged 8.3 points on only a 27 percent clip.
“Xavier is a better defender,” D’Antoni said. “Guys have certain attributes. He doesn’t get his shot as well as Nick, but he gets it. We needed that to start the game off with a mindset. It’s a lot of little factors. It’s early to say this is for sure. But it’s something to try right now.”
Young hardly provided much of an explanation for his shooting struggles other than “just missing shots.” But he said he and D’Antoni talked about his role and remains on board with it.
He gushed about some of the potential positives, such as teaming up with friend Jordan Farmar, playing at a faster tempo and feeding off the reserves’ early success. Through three games, the Lakers bench has accounted for 58.6 percent of the Lakers’ offense.
“I think I might fit right in with the guys with how they play,” Young said. “I like how they do in the second unit. It should be fun. We’ll see how it goes today. It’ll give me a chance to see how the game is going and flowing. I just have to be ready. I should be ready to go.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org