Wizards Insider: Young taking advantage of Arenas's absence
This season has already been filled with many surprises, from John Wall's injury woes to Gilbert Arenas's trade to Orlando, but those situations have created a truly startling development: In the past two games, Nick Young has been announced last in player introductions.
Being the final player introduced is generally a sign of stature on the team, and within the hearts of the fans. And while his position is far from being permanent -- especially when Wall returns from the bone bruise in his right knee -- it does speak to how far Young has come. From being a guy who only got a starting nod in the preseason because Arenas faked a knee injury (and Al Thornton was injured) to all of a sudden emerging as a go-to-guy on offense.
"It shows a lot, that I never gave up, I never really quit," said Young, who is averaging a career-high 14.5 points per game. "I kept at it, and I'm just happy, it's paying off."
In the past two games since Arenas was dealt, Young has been the last Wizards called and scored 51 points, including a season-high 30 against Miami in the first game. Coach Flip Saunders describes Young as a "bad shot maker" since he always seems to fade or lean on jumpers, and takes several more while contested. But teams have to pay him attention.
Young had the play of the night during the Wizards' 108-75 win against Charlotte, when he caught a pass from Kirk Hinrich in the left corner, pump faked to get Boris Diaw, then split Diaw and Kwame Brown with a dribble and let the ball bounce into his lap before elevating for a dunk.
As Young got ready to describe his improved play this season, Hilton Armstrong walked past a group of reporters and shouted, "Nick, you're in the starting lineup now that Gil left. You happy that Gil left? That's a good question for you guys to ask."
Young chuckled and shook his head as Armstrong walked away, because he knows how much Arenas has helped him this season.
Arenas attempted to groom Young for his slot, believing that his future in Washington would be brief. "We talked about the games. Worked out a little bit. He was telling me different days, get to the gym early. Show your dedication," Young said about Arenas. "He told me before he left, don't let nobody bring you down. Continue to stay how you've been and you've been playing. It's words of advice that can stay there. He's just a great player. He worked hard to get to where he's at. I wish the best for him."
Young tried to explain what has gone through his mind as he waits to be the last player welcomed each game. He laughed when asked if he thought about doing "The Dougie."
"It felt good because you always want that, but there's pressure. Sometimes I don't know what to do," Young said about coming out for pre-game introductions. "Do I come out early or do I wait 'til my name is called? From watching Gil and them, you just got to take it and be professional, try to be as professional as I can."
Young clashed with Saunders at times last season, as the two had different opinions about how he should play. "I think he was hard on me," Young said. "I think he was tough love, trying to make me get more hungry, more focused. He has his ways of dealing with certain players."
Young is happy to see it all coming together. "It's a great opportunity. It's something I've been waiting for since I've been in the league. Happy to be in this situation and hopefully this thing keeps going."