Scouting Profile: James Young
With the draft fast approaching, we will be taking a look at potential draft prospects with writers who have covered the prospects in college or -- in the case of international prospects -- spent a great deal of time scouting them. Today we’ll look at James Young (G/F - Kentucky) with the help of SB Nation NBA draft guru Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie).
What are his strengths? Weaknesses?
James Young is one of the more interesting prospects in this draft, and he's something of a project. His best game this year given the competition level probably came against Florida the first time they played, when he knocked down seven of his 10 shots, including four of five from 3, and scored 19 points. He dropped 20+ points nine times, but never with the type of efficiency that he displayed against what was consistently the best team in the country this season.
Where Young excels is as a jump shooter. His shooting form is pristine, and he gets excellent elevation on his jumper. He's an incredible athlete, and has great length and height for both wing positions. Athletic shooters can make quite a career in the NBA, so it's not hard at all to envision him working out well.
His weaknesses though have to do with those strengths. Young was a shooter that only shot 35 percent this season from 3, although that has more to do with the fact that he was the only spacing option that Kentucky had this past season with the Harrisons, Julius Randle, and Willie Cauley-Stein. He had to take a lot of contested outside jumpers just to keep defenses honest, which slightly depressed his percentages. I'd envision that these will leap in the pros. He already has NBA range (or at least as much as any NBA prospect does).
But that's not his biggest problem. His best way to fit in the NBA is as a "3 and D" guy, but he's not a good defender yet. At all. He doesn't get after it on that end, and doesn't seem to have great instincts there. Of course, most NCAA prospects have poor defensive instincts coming out of college. That's just kind of the way it is. They could come along for Young, and he could be fine on that end. But defensive lapses just seemed more common for him than other guys, and a lot of the time it was effort-related.
How do you think his game translates to the NBA?
Given his athleticism and shooting, his game is extremely translatable, especially once he is put into a slightly better role in the NBA than he was in college. Assuming the shot falls more consistently as I expect it to, I can't see him failing to the point where he doesn't reach a second contract quite yet.
What NBA player would you compare him to?
He's athletic and young enough to the point where he could develop into a Richard Jefferson-type that can both score by shooting and by getting to the rim with his athleticism. Or he could be an big shooting guard like a Klay Thompson. Or maybe he ends up like a C.J. Miles, more of an instant offense in small doses off the bench shooter.
What do you see as his NBA ceiling (All-Star/Starter/Spot-Starter/Rotation Player)?
My guess is that he's closer to the Miles level than peak Jefferson level, but who knows. Young is only 18 and hasn't really been used in a way to maximize his talents yet. I have him at 15th on my big board, just outside the lottery. I tend to think shooting is the easiest thing to project into an NBA role, so Young at worst probably ends up as a solid role player.
Reporter: Robby Kalland