Young Says of Boosted Confidence: "It's Very Real"
WALTHAM, Mass. – Call it a fork in the road. Call it now or never.
Whatever you want to call it, James Young is fighting for his Celtics life.
Young, who is entering his third season in the NBA, is one of a trio of players who are presumably competing for the 15th and final roster spot on the Boston Celtics, along with second-year guard R.J. Hunter and rookie big man Ben Bentil.
With two years of experience and a guaranteed contract under his belt, Young should be the favorite to win the battle.
But he’s not. In fact, no one is – yet.
Young, who has beefed his 6-foot-6 frame up to an impressive 230 pounds – 15 more than last season – plans on changing that outlook over the course of this year’s training camp. By all accounts, it sounds as if he is off to a very good start.
“I’m playing well so far, so I’m not worrying about [the final roster spot]. Just going out here and playing my game,” Young told Celtics.com before Boston’s practice Wednesday evening. “I’m grabbing boards, I’m making the right plays and I’m just knocking down shots. Those are the main things, and things have been clicking so far.”
Another 6-foot-6 body has been taking notice of Young’s improved play. Jae Crowder, a fan favorite and one of the leaders of the team, responded without hesitation Wednesday after being asked about the differences he has seen in the new-look Young.
“He’s aggressive,” Crowder quipped, moments after head coach Brad Stevens said that Young had a “really good” first day. “I can’t say that he was (aggressive) the other years that I played with him. He’s more aggressive and he’s trying to make stuff happen on the court, both ends of the court.
“That comes with knowing what to do, not being indecisive, and he’s learning at a high rate right now and he’s being very aggressive.”
Crowder has apparently been reading Young’s mind, because the third-year guard commented that his mind is in a much clearer place this season than it ever has been before during his young professional career.
“I know the system very well now,” he said. “I know what I’ve got to do offensively, defensively. I know all of our plays like the back of my hand. I know what the coach is looking for defensively.”
That’s a far cry from where he was a season ago.
“Last year I thought I knew it, but coming off of different plays I didn’t know certain sets when I thought I did,” Young admitted. “I was miscommunicating some of the calls on defense, and really just not focused. I put a lot of focus into my game this year and I’ve just been growing and maturing.”
Young has told reporters in the past that his confidence was up, but it never truly felt like he meant it. This time around?
“It’s very real,” Young said.
Young’s confidence boost and improved mindset is fully applicable to work he put in during the offseason. His summer didn’t include vacation and recovery time. Instead, it was full workouts on the court and in the weight room.
“I haven’t been anywhere really but here (in Boston),” Young explained. “I went home for a few days, but other than that I’ve just been here grinding and working out every day, getting a lot of shots up with the assistant coaches.”
Now, he’s getting shots up – and making them – during the heat of training camp in the hopes of saving his career in Boston.