When the trade was first announced, I'm sure everyone was met with a rather large dose of euphoria. As fans we were pumped that the Clippers, our beloved Los Angeles Clippers, were able to swindle a talented, young wing scorer away from a disastrous team and front office for practically nothing. In the interest of fairness, I'm not calling Brian Cook nothing. He is something. He's an expiring contract. He's just not anything more, though. And, while it will ultimately result in a player years down the road, the second round pick (courtesy of New Orleans) that the Clippers gave away means nothing to the team right now. Nor should it have. The Clippers were a talented wing player away from being a legitimate threat in the Western Conference and now they have it. They have their starting two guard for the rest of the year at the cost of a player who wasn't playing anymore and a second round pick that wasn't even their own in the first place. In return, the Clippers got a scoring machine that, while he may be a tad too trigger happy, can light it up when called upon. I'm sure a lot of people are wondering just what Nick Young helps the Clippers do better. Well, let me tell you.
Nick Young: On the Offensive
I have long said that the one player that would have excelled with LeBron James during LeBron's tenure in Cleveland was Nick Young. Why? He provides amazing scoring ability and is always able to find a way into the corners and just let it rain from there. In his career, Nick Young has taken 902 threes and made 343 of them. Comes out to 38.0% for his career. That's not a bad mark. Nick Young is about more than just shooting threes, though. He's also an adept jump-shooter. The guy takes a ton of jumpers. There are articles out there which suggest that he takes a ton of bad jumpers (i.e. long two's). However, he is very efficient at them. Since his rookie year, which was 2007-2008, Nick Young has taken 1086 two-point jumpers from 16+ feet all the way to just inside the three-point line. He's made 468 of those 1086 (43.1%). Over that same period of time, Kobe Bryant, who people widely consider a vastly superior jump-shooter, has taken 2089 two-point jumpers from 16+ feet. He's made 838 of those 2089 (40.1%). This is in the regular season only. I'm not saying that Nick Young is a better player than Kobe Bryant but I do truly believe that he's a better at shooting jumpers than Kobe Bryant is.
Over the last two seasons, from what I could find, Nick Young has taken a combined 170 corner three-point shots. He's made 79 of those 170 (46.5%). Now, is Nick Young the next coming of Ray Allen? No, he is not. He's not as prolific as Ray Allen is behind the arc or from the corners but he's no slouch either. How good is he, though? Well, on spot-up three-point shots this season Nick Young has made 32 of 76 (42.1%). That's not terrible at all. It's not Ray Allen status but it is pretty good in its own right. The one thing to keep in mind when looking at these numbers is that Nick Young plays on a team that is devoid of a real low-post threat like the Clippers have in Blake Griffin. Teams really haven't been sagging off of Nick Young that much because they know they don't have to come down and double-team anyone in the post like what's been happening to Blake Griffin on a routine basis this season. And we all know how adept Blake Griffin is at finding the open man out of the double-team. That's where Nick Young should thrive.
Rather than just look at Nick Young's numbers by themselves, we're also going to have to take a look at the numbers from the Clippers starting shooting guards this season. Those guys, obviously, being Chauncey Billups and Randy Foye. And while I am aware that this trade probably isn't made if Chauncey Billups is still healthy, it doesn't hurt to look at the group as a whole since Nick Young will be taking over there shortly. On those very same 16+ foot two-point jumpers that Nick Young hit 43.1% on since 2007-2008, Young is 83 of 189 (43.9%) on them this season. By contrast, Randy Foye and Chauncey Billups are a combined 41 of 123 (33.3%). That means that Nick Young provides a 10% boost in that area of the floor. He can hit those long two-point jumpers with better regularity than our starting shooting guards have done this season. For as much negativity as Young has gotten because of his propensity to shoot those long two-point jumpers, one thing cannot be denied for the Clippers after making this deal. It is now an added feature of offense.
Remember how I mentioned those corner three-point attempts earlier and how Nick Young over the last two seasons has hit 79 of 170 (46.5%)? Well, Randy Foye and Chauncey Billups combined over the last two seasons have hit 47 of 142 (33.1%). This is a 13.5% increase in production. This, like those long two-point jumpers, cannot be overstated enough. It's another added feature of offense. It allows Chris Paul more freedom to drive into the paint and either dish it off if a defender from the weakside is closing in on him or finish around the rim because the weakside defender must now respect the shooting prowess of the man in the corner. In short, it's deadly. It gives us options. And options are always good. Take just this season for example. Nick Young is shooting 30 of 55 (54.5%) on corner three-point shots this season. Randy Foye and Chauncey Billups have combined to shoot 18 of 58 (31.0%). Folks, that's an increase of 23.5%! The Clippers, because of this trade, are getting increased production in the main two areas that we need help with; long two-point jumpers and corner three-point jumpers.
I also mentioned that Nick Young was 32 of 76 (42.1%) on spot-up three-point shots this season. For comparisons sake, Randy Foye and Chauncey Billups combined to shoot 70 of 177 (39.5%). This is another increase in production that Nick Young brings to the table over Randy Foye and Chauncey Billups. When Nick Young hits the floor you're going to see an increased sense of offensive prowess simply because he knows how to put the ball in the hoop with as much ease as anyone else. While he's not the pure jump-shooter that Ray Allen, Kevin Durant, or Steve Nash are, he's probably in that next tier of great jump-shooters simply because of his alarming efficiency there. Now, does Nick Young pass the ball with the greatest of ease? No. No he does not. However, I don't see that becoming a problem with this team since he knows that Chris Paul will be the primary ball-handler along with Mo Williams. He knows that they direct the offense and he's just there to be the main trigger man. An added weapon, if you will.
Nick Young: On the Defensive
Thanks to our friends over at Basketball Value, we can see just how great this team was all-around when Chauncey Billups was in the starting lineup as opposed to when Randy Foye has been in there. In fact, in total, the foursome of Chris Paul, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan have played 271.63 minutes with Chauncey Billups this season and 250.18 minutes with Randy Foye this season. We're talking about only a 21.45 minute discrepancy here. The Clippers were 12 points better on the court per 100 possessions with Chauncey Billups on the floor as opposed to Randy Foye. This isn't just based on offense, either. It's defense too. The Clippers were +5 points per 100 possessions better on defense with Chauncey, in fact. And +7 points per 100 possessions better on offense. Now I'm sure what you're all wondering this has to do with Nick Young. Well, the Washington Wizards group of John Wall, Chris Singleton, Trevor Booker, and JaVale McGee has played with Nick Young for 201.03 minutes this season and Jordan Crawford for 109.07 minutes this season. A difference of 91.96 minutes. Yes, it is a pretty big difference but bear with me here. Over this course of time, the Wizards, while -5 points per 100 possessions worse on offense with Nick Young instead of Jordan Crawford are an astronomical +13.5 points per 100 possessions better on defense with Nick Young instead of Jordan Crawford.Yes, one man can make a difference.
Now, is Nick Young the next Chauncey Billups for us in terms of defense? I don't know. For those that are unaware, Chauncey Billups was isolated against 28 times this season. He held opponents to 3 of 20 (15.0%) shooting and forced 6 turnovers while committing just 2 fouls. At the time of his injury, Chauncey Billups was ranked as the #2 isolation defender in the NBA this season. He still sits there today because of the minimum requirement of 25 plays. He allowed 0.39 points per possession (PPP) in isolation this year. A truly elite number. Randy Foye, on the other hand, has been isolated against 73 times this season and allowed opponents to shoot 16 of 52 (30.8%) and forced 6 turnovers while committing 12 fouls. He's allowed 0.84 PPP which ranks him 156th in the league. Nick Young, as I have stated in other topics, has been isolated against 35 times this season. He's held opponents to 8 of 29 (27.6%) shooting and forced 5 turnovers while committing just 1 foul. Comes out to 0.54 PPP which ranks him 15th in the league. This is who will be taking over as our starting shooting guard very shortly. He's not Chauncey Billups defensively but he is an upgrade over Randy Foye, without a doubt. Not to mention that he has the added versatility of being able to guard bigger players such as small forwards. He has done so already this season by going up against the likes of Kevin Durant, Paul Pierce, and Andre Iguodala. He can also guard the bigger two-guards in the league like Kobe Bryant and Joe Johnson while also being able to defender point guards like Derrick Rose. All things he has done this season.
I also want to touch one other part of defense that Nick Young is going to help solidify for us. Defending the spot-up jumper. The Clippers, as a team this season, rank 19th in the NBA at defending spot-up jumpers. A bad mark. A truly bad mark for any team looking to make the playoffs. You have to be disciplined on defense and the Clippers are not. This season, combined, Randy Foye and Chauncey Billups allowed opponents to shoot 39 of 113 (34.5%) on spot-up jumpers overall and 26 of 74 (35.1%) on spot-up threes. Nick Young has allowed opponents to shoot 24 of 83 (28.9%) on spot-up jumpers overall and 20 of 59 (33.9%) on spot-up threes. What's this mean? Nick Young is a pretty disciplined defender with all things considered. He will make us better on defense more than people have even begun to realize.
In total, Nick Young is an upgrade over what we have had recently. I think we all already knew that but when you're able to look at the numbers, and there are a lot of them, you can fully comprehend how good of a player he is and how much he can truly help us on both ends of the floor. That's not to say that there aren't any negatives with bringing Nick Young in. He doesn't like to pass. We all know that. In fact, Nick Young has made more threes in his career than he has assists. That even holds true this season. Among shooting guards that average 30+ minutes per game this season, Nick Young has the single lowest assist rate (6.1) in the league. There's only one guy within three points of him there and that's Marco Belinelli (9.2). However, Young also possesses the third lowest turnover rate (7.8) in the league for shooting guards who have seen 30+ minutes per game this season. And the two guys who are lower than him have far lower Usage Rates. Young also has a FT/FA ratio of .220. That's higher than Joe Johnson (.191), Jason Terry (.135), and OJ Mayo (.205). It's in the Ray Allen (.223) range. That's what we're getting. I can live with that. Can you?
All in all, the Nick Young experiment will only last for a few months. In those few months we'll learn whether or not Nick Young really was an upgrade over what we previously possessed or if he was just another disappointment like we've been used to after so many years. Either way, it's going to be a beautiful experiment. There will be hair-pulling. There will be shouts of "What the hell are you doing?!" but there will also be shouts of "YES! YES! YES!" mixed in there. Nick Young is a polarizing figure and I hope that the data continues to support what it shows. I hope Nick Young comes over here and shines. He definitely appears to help the Clippers do everything better.
I want to apologize if this FanPost ran long.