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Player Review: Sam Young

by Mark Montieth | askmontieth@gmail.com

June 27, 2013

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Age: 28
Years Pro: 4
Status: Free Agent.
Key Stats: Averaged 2.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 56 appearances. Shot 39 percent from the field and 54 percent from the foul line.

Sam Young is having the kind of career a second-round draft pick is supposed to have. The kind a second-round pick should hope to have.

He's looking like a career journeyman, which is nothing to be ashamed of when you're the former 36th pick in the draft. But he pretty well fulfilled the role the Pacers anticipated for him when they signed him to a one-year minimum contract last summer. He was the 10th man on the roster, based on minutes played, and made enough contributions to qualify as a success for that role.

Young was brought in primarily as a wing defender, and was adequate in that role. Not that he shut down LeBron or anything, but he was the best option for that chore that the Pacers had among their reserves. He didn't score much, at 2.8 points per game on 39 percent shooting in 12.4 minutes per game, but he had his moments.

He scored in double figures twice during the regular season, against Dallas and Sacramento in November. He slumped in December, came down with the flu late in the month, then sprained an ankle on Jan. 2. He was then waived because his contract for the season had not yet become guaranteed, which led to the two-game, 13-minute Dominic McGuire Era. Young was re-signed on Feb. 1 for the rest of the season, an obvious indication the Pacers saw no better options for his role.

Perhaps Young's most memorable performance from the fans' perspective came in Game 1 of the Pacers' second-round series with New York, when he committed three turnovers in six minutes at Madison Square Garden in a victory. “One of the worst games I've ever played,” he said later. Despite all the Twitter demands for him to be benched for the rest of the playoffs, if not eternity, coach Frank Vogel stuck with him.

“I believe he's going to have an impact on this series,” Vogel said the next day. “Obviously he had a rough start, but he hadn't played (but 10 minutes in the previous series against Atlanta). So, you have to be patient with those situations. You don't want to hurt your team, but I believe in him as a basketball player and he'll have an impact on this series.”

Vogel was right. Young scored five points in six minutes in the Pacers' Game 4 victory over the Knicks, and had five points and five rebounds in nine minutes in the Game 6 closeout victory. He also had six points, six rebounds and two steals in 14 minutes in the Game 4 victory over Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals. He played solid defense in all those games, something the Pacers desperately needed off the bench.

The best moments of Young's career so far have come with Memphis. He scored in double figures 25 times as a rookie, including three of 20 or more points. The Grizzlies were 30-16 the following season when he started, and he went on to start in 11 of their 13 playoff games. He scored 17 points in one first-round game against San Antonio, and 18 in another.

He's like many NBA players, a capable performer when he's in the right place at the right time. He would help his cause immensely if he would improve his shooting form, and therefore his perimeter shot, but his athleticism and defense can keep him in the league for seasons to come with a few breaks. His future with the Pacers is uncertain, but it doesn't seem anyone within the organization would be disappointed if he's back on the roster next season.

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