Lakers’ Nick Young to come off bench for sake of player development

Lakers guard Nick Young will come off bench.
Photo By Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze

LOS ANGELES — After having a resurgent season full of productivity and joy, Nick Young will return to a spot that had sparked frustration in past seasons.

Young will face reduced playing time off the bench.

But unlike the uneasiness he felt under former Lakers coach Byron Scott, Young will have a diminished role under Lakers coach Luke Walton so he can find more time for some of his younger players, including guards David Nwaba and Tyler Ennis. The Lakers (20-45) will feature guard Nwaba at the starting shooting guard spot for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers (23-42) on Staples Center after signing a second 10-day contract. Lakers rookie center Ivica Zubac will also start over third-year center Tarik Black.

“Nick’s great. It’s important the message is out there that Nick has been one of our best two players all year long,” Walton said after seeing Young average 13.4 points on 43.4 percent shooting in 25.9 minutes this season.” I don’t want anyone to look at this as if he’s getting benched. But he obviously wants to play, but understands where we’re at and what we need to do. So I would expect him to be the same joyful Nick that is supporting his teammates and having fun even if he won’t be on the floor like he has been for us for most of the season.”

Walton’s assumptions proved correct.

“It’s nothing. It’s that time of year you want to check out the young guys and evaluate them,” Young said. “I understand that. It’s nothing personal. It’s not like he’s doing some crazy stuff. It wasn’t like other years before.”

Then, Young faced a diminished role because of his productivity (10.4 points per game on 35 percent shooting over the previous two seasons) and personality clashes with Scott. That has become a distant memory, though, for Young.

“It was very important, especially with the year I had last year,” Young said. “One of my main goals was coming back and proving a lot of people wrong.”

As for Nwaba, his eyes lit up on the increased playing time. He had just signed his second 10-day contract on Saturday after averaging 2.6 points on 44.4 percent shooting in 11.2 minutes through five games. The undrafted guard spent his time earlier with the Lakers’ Development League affiliate, the D-Fenders.

“It means a lot I’m getting an opportunity,” Nwaba said. “Whatever minutes I do have, I’m happy with the opportunity and it’s up to me to make use of that time.”


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