James Young: Celtics Future Star or Bust?


“With the 17th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft the Boston Celtics select James Young, from the University of Kentucky.” At that moment Celtics fans were jumping out of their seats because the freshman that led Kentucky in scoring on their way to the NCAA Championship game was now a member of our beloved team.

After almost an entire rookie season being played in the D-League for the Celtics youngster, people are still very curious as to what this kid can do. People are hearing all the hype for this kid but no one has really seen anything. Can James Young be a star or is the NBA just not suited for him?

Apr 7, 2014; Kentucky Wildcats guard/forward James Young (1) shoots against Connecticut Huskies center Amida Brimah  in the second half during the championship game of the Final Four in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

After a few not-so-great performances for Young in this year’s Summer League, people are still wondering if this kid (still only 19 years old) has put in the work and improved at all. Some major problems that came up when talking about Young’s game last season were his aggressiveness, his below average defense and his very thin frame. The potential has always been there for Young, but could he live up to it? Could Young put in the work, constantly improve himself and become a force to be reckoned with in the NBA?

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Last season, James Young saw limited minutes for the Celtics after a log jam at the guard positions and how good the team was playing late in the season without him. As a result from this, #13 saw most of his basketball action in the 17 games he played with the Maine Red Claws (the Celtics development team).

James played about 33 mpg and put up averages of 21.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.5 spg and shooting 46% from the field. Along with that Young also shot an amazing 44% from beyond the arc. Those were incredible numbers from Young in his time in the D-League and he showed that he belonged in the NBA, but what his role would be is still undetermined. He showed flashes of greatness in his time in the D-League but would it translate to the next level? Could he be a star on a contending team or will he wind up being a lower tier player in the NBA as a role player for average teams? At pick #17 James Young was a low risk, high reward type of player but oh boy, Celtics fans are really hoping this kid pans out for us.

Ceiling Comparison: James Harden

James Young is a long, sweet shooting lefty who can put points on the board in a hurry, an average athlete and a below average defender who wears the #13. Sound familiar? James Harden had very similar problems to that of James Young when he started out in the NBA for the Thunder. Granted, Harden was a better playmaker and ball handler but Young could easily improve in those two categories.

After a few seasons in the NBA, Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets where his game exploded and he became an instant superstar in the league. Why can’t Young follow in the footsteps of Harden? The similarities are uncanny and if Young continues to work on his game and continue to find mentors to guide him (such as Kevin Durant) and help him improve, the sky’s the limit for Young. If he continues to work on his body and his game, in a few years he could possibly become the “James Harden of the Celtics”, and that is a very good thing to hear for Celtics fans.

Floor Comparison: MarShon Brooks

Another Celtics draft pick that had great size and showed great offensive skills in the NBA. He had the potential to be great in the NBA but he was a poor defender and didn’t show the motor needed to be great. He is the floor comparison for James Young because MarShon Brooks shows us what would happen to Young if he does not improve and does not work on his game. Stuck with only an offensive game Marshon Brooks jumped from team to team unable to find a solid role on any of the teams. After failing to get an NBA contract, MarShon recently took his (offensive) talents to Europe to play for Emporio Armani Milano on a one year deal.

A player with great potential that never seemed to care enough to work on his game and become better on both ends of the floor. This comparison shows us what would happen to James Young if he just stayed the same and was unable to establish his presence on both ends of the floor while continuing to improve his body and getting stronger. He would bounce from team to team unable to find a good role and then eventually lead to an exit from the NBA.

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  • Oct 6, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard James Young (13) shoots for three against the Philadelphia 76ers in the second half at TD Garden. Boston defeated the 76ers 98-78. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    According to ESPN Boston’s Chris Forsberg, the Celtics youngster already managed to add 15 pounds of muscle to his frame and also added an astonishing 3 inches to his vertical jump. A great step in the right direction for Young. His hard work has paid off and he has begun to really fill out his formerly thin frame.

    Young now has the ideal measurements for an NBA 2-guard standing at 6-foot 7-inches tall, 230 pounds, with a 7 foot wingspan. His improvement to his vertical also shows us that Young is trying to work on his athleticism which would greatly help him with his aggressiveness and ability to score easy baskets in the NBA.

    Along with that, James Young has also announced that he will be working out with Kevin Durant during the summer. Durant, former MVP, will definitely push Young everyday and hopefully teach him a few things. So far, he has shown us that he is willing to put in the work in the gym, and work on his weaknesses.

    Those are excellent signs for a player with Star potential, and that is probably why Celtics coach Brad Stevens, and GM Danny Ainge are so high on this youngster. Young’s hard work will definitely pay off sooner or later and keep a look out for #13 this season as he is sure to find some valuable minutes on the court as a backup to Avery Bradley. At still only 19 years old, any minutes will be valuable to the development of Young and his ascension to NBA stardom.

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