This is the fourth of our Clips Nation "exit interviews" of the 2012 Los Angeles Clippers., an overview and analysis, player by player, of all 15 Clippers who finished the 2011-2012 season on the roster.
Name: Nick Young
2011-2012 Key Stats: 9.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 35.3 (3pt%), 23:36 mpg
2012 Playoff Stats: 8.3 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 51.5% (3pt%), 18:11 mpg
Age: 27 (06/01/85)
Years in the NBA: 5
Years with the Clippers: 1
2011-2012 Salary: $3,695,857
Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
In a Nutshell
It’s no secret the Clippers were fortunate to acquire Nick Young as part of a three team deal on March 15th, just before the trade deadline. They gave up virtually nothing in parting with Brian Cook and a 2015 2nd round pick from New Orleans to get him. If you’ll remember, at the time the Clippers needed a shooting guard with size, and with the ability to shoot from range, and also perhaps with the length to bother opposing SG’s on defense. That he was a local product out of USC with a history of great performances at Staples Center was icing on the cake.
When Young (a.k.a. Swaggy P) first arrived, there was plenty of speculation that he would eventually be a starter, but nothing was very definite, other than the fact that he would be in the rotation somewhere. It really would’ve been interesting to have seen a CN poll at the time, but the question was quickly answered by Vinny Del Negro, deciding Young was better suited coming off the bench, and the W/L record seems to support the coach’s decision. For the first 10 games of Swaggy P's tenure with the Clippers, starting March 18th at home against the Detroit Pistons, the Clippers would win all 7 games with him coming off the bench and they would also lose all 3 games that he started, which were the brutal back to back to back losses in Indiana, OKC, and New Orleans. Granted, this wasn’t a fair sample size to go on, but the team needed to win games at the end of the season above all with major playoff ramifications at stake, and they would finish 15-5 with Nick Young coming off the bench, and 0-3 with him starting, so it’s hard to argue with the results. It’s also easy to see how he could just be a better fit teaming up with the ultra-quick and high-flying Eric Bledsoe and the rest of the Clippers 2nd unit "goon squad".
Let’s make no mistake, this guy is out there to shoot and space the floor on offense if playing with starters, and he's relied on to create his own shot while playing with the 2nd unit. His 37.8% career 3pt shooting percentage certainly backs that up, and his impressive 51.5% 3pt strike rate in this year’s playoff run was very impressive, while also showing his ability to perform in pressure situations. There may not have been a more important one minute sequence for the Clippers this past season than Young’s three straight three point shots that helped the Clippers complete the amazing comeback against the Grizzlies in Game 1. There's just no way the comeback is realized without that, and to me was the signature of the comeback. Let's also remember, he did go on to make some important shots toward the end of Game 7 in Memphis.
At what cost do we owe to this excellent outside shooting? Young may or may not play with reasonable focus or intensity, have good shot selection, or much to hang his hat on, on the defensive end. While I'd like to believe his length helps make it a little tougher on opposing guards and small forwards, his block and steal rates don’t exactly inspire. His ability or willingness to rebound is extremely low, as he boards 1.9 rpg for his career, and only managed 1.6 with the Clippers. In case that wasn’t enough, his assist rates of 0.9 apg for his career and 0.5 with the Clippers are worse.
Future with the Clippers
As a non-bird free agent, the Clippers can pay him up to 120% of last year’s salary, or just a tick above 4.435 million next season. At the very least, he's definitely an asset as a bench/rotation player, and also versatile in that he's tall and quick enough to play SG, SF, or even PF if going real small.
The Clippers would seem to be willing to bring him back, and you’d have to think that Young would love to stay in Los Angeles. If you’d have asked me after the Memphis series, a re-signing would’ve been close to a no brainer, but then again, how long do you think he’d last with the Spurs? Hopefully that’s a question some of our younger players are taking to heart this off-season.