Summer Forecast: Too Young?
August, 21, 2014
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesEach weekday for a three-week span, our summer panel of prognosticators -- a motley crew featuring our friends in the Celtics blogging community -- will join forces to tell you how the 2014-15 season will play out for Boston. We'll gaze into our crystal balls and attempt to answer all your questions before this season's team even hits the floor together for the first time.
Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: What are your expectations for Celtics rookie James Young?
Our panel was given four potential options for Young: (1) All-Rookie team; (2) Rotation player with immediate impact; (3) Role player with limited impact; and (4) D-League.
Unlike No. 6 pick Marcus Smart, Young, the 17th pick in June's draft, faces low expectations for his rookie campaign. The just-turned 19-year-old earned nearly 65 percent of his votes in the "limited impact" category, while the remaining ballots pegged him as bound for the D-League for game reps.
It's hard not to compare Young's potential career path to that of Avery Bradley. Back in 2010, a chipped bone in his ankle contributed to then-19-year-old Bradley's slide to Boston at No. 19. The injury kept Bradley out of summer league (and some of the preseason, too) and that stunted start to his pro career contributed to Bradley playing only 162 minutes for the Celtics his first season.
Bradley spent nine games in the D-League that season before being recalled for emergency depth. Now, the Celtics were coming off a Finals appearance the year before and were still pegged as a potential contender in the Big Three era, so minutes were tougher to come by for a rookie. But even on a rebuilding team, Young is going to struggle to find playing time.
Young finds himself deep on a swingman depth chart that already features Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, and fellow summer addition Evan Turner. It seems fair to wonder if Young will need some trips to Maine early in the season to get some game reps early, though trades and his own development could help open doors later in the year.
Even with the potential for D-League visits, this writer voted for the "role player with limited impact" because the rebuilding nature of Boston's roster ought to give Young some opportunities to earn playing time late in the 2014-15 season. If Boston fades from playoff contention, particularly after the trade deadline, it might be in the team's best interest to get Young some NBA game action and hope that accelerates his development.
Just keep in mind how things worked out for Bradley. That first year wasn't much to rave about, but by the end of the 2011-12 season, his second pro season, Bradley supplanted Ray Allen as the team's starting shooting guard late in the season. Even a limited late-season role could help Young build towards a brighter future.
A look at our forecasters voting:
Read on as our panelists explain their ballots:
Kevin O'Connor, CelticsBlog (D-League)
Unless James Young miraculously developed defense, ball handling, consistency, and/or passing over the summer, then he’s better off spending virtually the entire season in Maine. There just isn’t enough playing time go around at shooting guard or small forward and Young isn’t close to ready anyway. He certainly has encouraging raw talent, but honing in on his skills playing 30 minutes per game in Maine is better than riding the bench in Boston.
Jay King, MassLive.com (Limited impact)
Because of Boston's lack of shooting and perimeter size, Young could get an immediate chance. But he just turned 19 this weekend, he's not yet a refined talent, and he could benefit from some time in the D-League. During his one season at Kentucky, the long-armed shooter demonstrated some bad habits, especially with his shot selection. He needs to increase his basketball IQ before he can make a big impact for the Celtics.
Tom Westerholm, Celtics Hub (Limited impact)
With so much help on the wings, Young might not get a ton of minutes early in the season, but don't be too surprised if he makes a Kelly Olynyk-esque surge at the end of the year when Boston is no longer trying to build the trade value of Green, Turner and Marcus Thornton.
Cory Prescott, CLNS Radio (Limited impact)
Young entered the NBA draft as one of its youngest players and will step foot onto the parquet floor battling Green, Turner and Wallace for minutes at small forward. Despite what you may think of that trio, they’re a group of accomplished veterans surely not eager to give up playing time to a 19-year-old. Young is a project who I would expect to learn from teammates and spend a bit of time up in Portland for some seasoning. While his draft mate Smart is already NBA ready, Young needs a few years to mature and refine his overall game.
Julian Edlow, WEEI.com (D-League)
Young is a very talented player, but is going to be a project to begin with. I expect him to flop around between being a limited role player for the Celtics and being a star at the D-League level. If the season goes how many of us expect it to, we may get to see a lot of Young in March and April.
Jeff Clark, CelticsBlog (Limited impact)
In another year Young might be a guy to let develop in the D-League for a year and he might still spend some time there but in this rebuilding situation he might get some minutes right away. Eventually I see him as a nice rotation 3-and-D guy. For now, I'll settle for the occasional garbage time dunk.
Jay O., Red's Army (D-League)
Unless Danny Ainge makes more moves to jettison some of the roster glut, I don't see Young getting much meaningful burn with the C's this year. He's already behind the 8-ball a bit, having missed summer league. Not a huge deal though, as he'll develop in time.
Padraic O'Connor, CelticsLife.com (Limited impact)
Young has the ability to add instant offense off the bench, which is something I expect him to do in Boston. Much like Smart, I expect Young to keep the energy up in the late second and early third quarters -- a time where the Celtics’ collective foot almost always comes off the gas. Expectations are lower for Young than they are for Smart. Any significant contributions he adds would be all upside.
Mark Vandeusen, CelticsLife (D-League)
I'm not picking "D-League" for Young because I don't think he can play in the NBA, I just feel as if it might be the best situation for him this season considering all the other shooting guards and small forwards on the roster. Wouldn't it make more sense for the 19-year-old to play big minutes every night down there, rather than sit on the end of bench in Boston?
KWAPT, Red's Army (Limited impact)
This is a tough one. Young definitely has talent, albeit very raw. He's an athletic thoroughbred that could flourish in fastbreak opportunities with guys like Rajon Rondo, Phil Pressey, Smart and Bradley. But there are also many question marks. We'll see how much playing time Stevens gives him during preseason -- which would be a perfect opportunity to see just what he looks like against NBA talent. The way injuries have decimated the Celts over the past few years, Young should definitely stay prepared, but, overall, I think he sees limited playing time and will impress the crowd with a loud dunk here and there, but not much more than that. Not this year anyway.
Also voting: Chris Jones, Red's Army (Limited impact).
Your turn: We invite you join the conversation. Sound off in the comments with how you think James Young will fare this season.
(Chris Forsberg can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ESPNForsberg. Hop HERE to submit a question for his Celtics Mailbag.)