18 years old, Freshman
6’7″, 213 lbs.
2013-14 Stats: 32.4 MPG, 14.3 PPG (40.7% FG, 70.6% FT, 34.9% 3FG), 4.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 1.9 TOPG
Measurements: 7’0″ wingspan, 8’8″ standing reach, 28″ no step vert, 35.5″ max vert, 5.1% body fat
Cumulative Ranking: 9th | Bryant’s Ranking: 10th | Scott’s Ranking: 9th
James Young: THE BREAKDOWN
Scott: James Young is one of my favorite players in this draft. I love the potential on offense — he has great touch from long range, yet even as a freshman, he was strong enough to get to the basket and absorb contact. There’s no doubt there are question marks — defensively, his effort was lacking, and his shooting numbers were sometimes ugly. But I think a 7’0″ wingspan and Michael Malone’s tutelage could improve his defense, and maturation and improvements in shot selection will help his percentages.
Bryant: I’m not as high on him as you, but the two things I love most about him; his visual growth over the season and his insane athleticism. At the beginning of the year, he was the most invisible freshman on a bad Kentucky team, but in the NCAA Tournament, he was playing hard on both ends and making good decisions. I don’t know that he’ll be ready to contribute huge minutes immediately, but he’s got the athleticism, the offensive touch and the foundations to be a very good defensive player. If the front office knows Rudy Gay is leaving, he might be a surprise pick at No. 8.
Scott: Good point on stepping up in the Tourney — scored 17 against Wisconsin in the semis, and 20 more against UCONN in the final (14-16 FT in those games). It’s even more impressive for an 18 year old to produce at that level. He’s my No. 9, but I definitely think there is enough potential for that 8th pick. In my opinion, the Kings, with a lot of roster questions, should be taking the best available player. Young’s positional versatility is another benefit — he should be able to play SG and SF in the pros. So if you take Young, he could play behind or next to both Ben McLemore and Rudy Gay.
Bryant: Young’s potential is indeed impressive, and in pure ceiling alone he’s a lock for a top 10 selection. My main concern is we don’t know exactly what kind of player he is on a deep, inconsistent team like Kentucky, it was hard for anyone (aside from Julius Randle) to really show their full ranges of NBA potential. The tournament run does help, but there were a lot of games this year where Young was borderline invisible. He’s one of riskiest picks in our top ten, and does that potential make up for that?
Three Questions with Ed Isaacson of NBADraftBlog.com
1. In your opinion, what is Young’s ceiling in the NBA? Does he compare to any current players?
Ed: It’s really tough to get a good handle on Young’s ceiling because he is really behind a lot of players his age in his understanding of the game. He has great athletic tools, but he needs to put a lot of time in learning how to use them well. I don’t know if there is a single player he compares to, but there are a lot of young, athletic shooting guards out there who are just as raw. Many are in this draft with Young.
2. How NBA ready is Young? Will he take a few years before he can contribute at a solid level?
Ed: I don’t think he is ready for more than 10 minutes per game, at best. One, he was a poor college defender, so making the adjustment to the NBA could be very difficult. Also, he needs to work on becoming a consistent shooter, seeing the floor better and making better decisions. In a few years, he may fix all of that, but for now, any team that picks him should bring him along slowly.
3. Looking ahead with the Kings, could Young play next to either Ben McLemore or Rudy Gay? Or would the team encounter problems in one of those scenarios?
Ed: Could he play next to them? I guess he could, but I don’t think it’s a line-up that would make a team any better. If he can eventually be a consistent shooter, than having another player to spread the floor could be beneficial, especially for Cousins. But, I think the Kings’ bigger priority should be getting McLemore more time and touches, not giving part of them to a player like Young.
A Royal Pain – Sacramento Kings Cumulative Big Board
15. Nik Stauskas – Shooting Guard, Michigan
14. Jusuf Nurkic – Center, Bosnia
13. Adreian Payne – Power Forward, Michigan State
12. Gary Harris – Guard, Michigan State
11. Doug McDermott – Forward, Creighton
10. Dario Saric – Forward, Croatia
9. James Young – Guard/Forward, Kentucky