Nick Young eager to help champion Warriors in any role
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Nick Young passed up a shot, and then another, uncharacteristic of the charismatic guard with a sweet stroke.
That’s when he heard from Andre Iguodala. And Steve Kerr.
Just shoot it.
Regardless of how large his role or his number of minutes on the loaded NBA champions, the Warriors want Young looking to score whenever he sees a chance he likes.
“We had to remind him, like, ‘Listen man, you’ve gotta shoot, be you,’” Iguodala said. “Shaun Livingston and myself are going to put him in a position where he won’t have to worry about where his shots are going to come from or if he’s going to be able to get as many attempts as he would like. We’re going to make life a lot easier for him and we’re going to make basketball fun for him, too.”
That’s already clear, given Young’s big grin and playful nature his first few days on the job.
Kerr took a turn getting on him, and Young is already used to a full-court press from the reigning NBA champions: His new coach, Finals MVP Kevin Durant and Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green all went to Los Angeles to take “Swaggy P” to lunch and recruit him to Northern California.
Young called their efforts “very persuasive,” and he’s still appreciative.
“They took me out on the town a little bit. I like to go out a little bit,” he said. “They just knew me. They just get me.”
Now, they all are eager for him to get comfortable — and fast. The Warriors open the preseason schedule at home Saturday against Denver before a trip to China to face the Timberwolves twice, Oct. 5 and 8.
“I’ve been saying the same thing to Nick, ‘Shoot it, shoot it, shoot it,’” Kerr said. “The whole thing for any of our new guys is to understand that we want the first good shot we can find. If we don’t have a good shot, try to get a great shot but let’s keep the ball moving but be aggressive and find that balance. I don’t want Nick out there thinking. He’s one of the best shooters in the league and he should let it fly every time he’s open. And then as he gets more comfortable with the guys he’ll understand where those opportunities will come, when to move the ball on and when to shoot it.”
Young played for former Warriors top assistant Luke Walton last season with the Lakers, so he got a bit of a glimpse at how Golden State might operate with its music-filled practices and focus on fun.
The 32-year-old Young in June declined the player option in his contract for this season with Los Angeles that would have paid him more than $5.6 million. He had said in April that it was “60/40” he would leave the Lakers in hopes of joining a playoff team.
Then a free agent, Young received a $5.2 million, one-year contract in July.
Hard to beat the star-studded defending champs featuring Durant and Stephen Curry — even if Young is finding his way initially.
“The more I get used to the plays, the more the shots will be open. I’m just in everybody’s way right now,” he said, then laughed while adding: “I was with Draymond and Steph a little bit today, I found myself passing a little bit more than normal. It felt good. I’m all about getting some assists.”
He averaged 13.2 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 60 games for the Lakers. He will provide the Warriors with the kind of depth Kerr loves to have as he regularly mixes and matches rotations.
Young is ready to do whatever is needed for the Warriors and Kerr, who rotates lineups often.
During media day, Young was asked his pick for top shooter on the team: “Probably have to go with Steve Kerr.”
“That’s buttering me up, trying to get some playing time,” Kerr quipped a couple of days later.
“Nick’s going to fit in great,” Iguodala said. “The thing with our team is that guys come in from different places and they don’t want to try to disrupt any of the flow. I saw it the first day. He didn’t want to disrupt the flow, but we encouraged him to shoot, we encouraged him to be aggressive, just have good intentions. I know Nick and JaVale (McGee) knows Nick and we know he’s a great person, he’s a funny guy. If you’re a good guy, a naturally good person, like to play basketball, you’ll fit in perfect.”
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