Pressed into service against the Washington Wizards following the announcement that Darren Collison would need to undergo arthroscopic surgery and Victor Oladipo would be out due to illness, Joe Young scored 17 points — including a career-best five three-pointers — in what was one of only seven games this season wherein he logged more than 20 minutes of action.
“I thought he did a good job,” Nate McMillan said of Young’s performance. “We wanted to get some ball movement and get some pressure on the ball, so we changed the lineup to try to get him on the ball. I thought he came in and did a nice job for us — bringing some energy, making some shots, and defending.”
More impressive than his counting stats in that particular contest, however, was the way in which he resisted the temptation to do too much with greater opportunity by transforming into an off-ball threat as opposed to hunting shots or making reads off the bounce.
“Don’t think that Joe Young isn’t a potential NBA player,” Kevin Pritchard cautioned last summer while speaking on 1070 The Fan’s The Dan Dakich Show. “Specifically, what Joe does very well is shoot the ball. By bringing in Lance, we can get Joe off the ball and off making decisions...”
By that standard, what the 25-year-old was able to do in a pinch is what he still needs to become on the whole.
How did Joe Young impress?
Against the Wizards, he had one possession where he made the ill-advised decision to go 1-on-4 and pull-up from 19 feet in transition, but that was the exception rather the rule.
Instead, he provided a scoring punch off the bench by standing at the proper angle and hitting the open shot whenever one of his teammates forced the defense to commit.
He also compensated for his lack of size by harassing the point of attack and keeping his head on swivel to prevent his man from getting the ball back, as was the case on this possession when he was matched up with Tomas Satoransky.
How did Joe Young disappoint?
Over the next 10 games before Darren Collison returned to action, the fiery guard shot 38 percent from the field and his team scored less than a point per possession while getting outscored by 7.2 points per 100 possessions in the 154 minutes that he was on the floor.
And, here’s the thing: In contrast to what made him effective against the Wizards, more than 50 percent of his 45 field goal attempts during that stretch were pull-up jumpers that he only knocked down at a cringe-inducing 30-percent clip while going 4-of-11 in the paint.
At the other end of the floor, his efforts to irritate his man with pressure defense were met with mixed results.
Sometimes he would manage to pester the Celtics into botching a simple inbounds pass.
On other occasions, he would pick up Goran Dragic full-court only to allow the hard-nosed guard to drive all the way to the basket with his dominant left hand.
Likewise, with 57 seconds remaining in the first quarter of the regular season finale, he committed a foul and put the Hornets in the bonus by picking up Malik Monk full court with his team already trailing by 10 points.
What’s next for Joe Young?
The decision on his fully non-guaranteed $1.6 million team option is due on July 1, when Indiana’s brass will have to come to a firm conclusion as to whether the methodology behind the moment he had against the Wizards can be consistently embraced in an inconsistent role or should be interpreted as fleeting.
Young’s going to be 26 at the end of June, and the Pacers signed Edmond Sumner’s limited shooting but superior measurements and more natural slashing ability to a two-year, two-way contract last summer.