Joe Young 2016 Season Review

Pacers rookie Joe Young reflects on his first NBA season, and shares what he plans to do to improve during the offseason.

Joe Young 2016 Review Playlist

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Joe Young 2016 Season Review

Pacers rookie Joe Young reflects on his first NBA season, and shares what he plans to do to improve during the offseason.
May 24, 2016  |  02:57

Joe Young 2015-16 Season Highlights

Check out these top plays from Pacers rookie Joe Young from the 2015-16 season.
May 24, 2016  |  02:48

Player Review 2016: Joe Young

by Mark Montieth Writer

Age: 23
Years pro: 1
Status: Has three more years remaining on his rookie contract, the final two team options.
Key stats: Averaged 3.8 points, 1.6 assists and 0.8 turnovers in 41 games as a rookie.

Joe Young's raw enthusiasm clashed with harsh reality in his rookie NBA season, leaving his value uncertain heading into a summer when team president Larry Bird says he's still seeking a "real" point guard.

Young would seem to qualify, but could have increased competition for playing time if Bird trades for or drafts another point guard. All Young can do for now is continue getting better, which in his case means gaining more experience and improving his judgment.

He entered the season bursting with promise. A second-round draft pick last June, he had the look of a steal. He had led the Pac-12 in scoring (19.8) and had been named the conference's Player of the Year. He had sprained his ankle in his pre-draft workout with the Pacers, which conveniently (for them) prevented him from working out for other NBA teams and perhaps becoming a first-round pick. He then starred in Summer League play in Orlando, leading all scorers with a 22.5-point average.

GALLERY: Joe Young's Season in Photos »

Bird said over the summer he expected Young, like fellow rookie Myles Turner, to be in the playing rotation. It didn't work out that way, as Young was stuck behind Monta Ellis, George Hill, Rodney Stuckey and, late in the season, Ty Lawson.

He wound up playing in half of the 82 games and averaging pedestrian numbers: 3.8 points, 1.6 assists and 0.8 turnovers. He hit 37 percent of his field goal attempts and 21 percent of his 3-point attempts. Still, he didn't do anything to indicate the optimism he had inspired over the summer was misguided.

Young needed 11 games to score his first NBA points because his playing time was sparse when he got it at all. He had scored just nine points after 22 games. But when he got extended opportunity, he took advantage.

PLAYER REVIEWS: Read More Season Recaps »

He finished with 15 points, seven assists and one turnover in the season's 41st game, at Denver. He followed with 11 points, five assists and two turnovers at Phoenix. He then had 16 points, eight assists and three turnovers at Golden State. At that point, he and fellow rookie Myles Turner were simultaneously emerging.

The wheels came off for Young the night after the game at Golden State, when he hit just 1-of-8 shots at Sacramento. As the season wore on, the improved health of Stuckey and the acquisition of Lawson left the backcourt too congested for a rookie second-round draft pick, but he had given a legitimate hint of what was yet to come.

"I'm very excited about Joe Young," then-coach Frank Vogel said during the preseason. "He's a great, great shooter, and a great attitude guy."

There's little doubt new coach Nate McMillan feels much the same way, but Young will have to prove himself all over again for a new boss and against what likely will be a revised group of point guard candidates next season. Then again, it represents a fresh start. If willingness to learn and purity of intentions have anything to do with it, he'll be able to stay in the mix.

DRAFT CENTRAL: The Latest Pacers News On The 2016 Draft »

Young at times comes off as too innocent and naïve for his own good, but more often comes off as mature and dedicated. As a senior at Oregon, he organized 8 a.m. chalk talks with the underclassmen to get them up to speed on college basketball. He began the season calling everyone "sir," sometimes to the annoyance of teammates. He comes from a close-knit family, and keeps a small circle of associates. His personal habits are beyond reproach. He reads books, and was voracious about studying game film.

Another round of Summer League play and the knowledge he gained as a rookie will help him going into next season, but the competition isn't going away.

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Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.


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