Joe Young 2018 Season Review

Pacers guard Joe Young sits down with's Pat Boylan to look back on his third NBA season and look ahead to the summer.

Joe Young 2018 Player Review

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Joe Young 2018 Season Review

Pacers guard Joe Young sits down with's Pat Boylan to look back on his third NBA season and look ahead to the summer.
May 18, 2018  |  02:45

Joe Young 2017-18 Season Highlights

Check out the top plays from Pacers guard Joe Young's 2017-18 season.
May 18, 2018  |  01:53

My Home Court: Joe Young

As a kid in Houston, Pacers guard Joe Young turned an old bicycle rim and an oak tree into a makeshift basketball hoop. See more stories about Pacers childhood basketball memories at
Apr 19, 2018  |  02:05

Player Review 2018: Joe Young

by Mark Montieth Writer

Age: 25
Years Pro: 3
Status: The Pacers have a team option on this final season of his rookie contract.
Key Stats: Played in a career-high 53 games, with one start. Averaged career-high 3.9 points while hitting 38 percent of his 3-point shots.

Joe Young's progress was apparent this season. Whether it was enough to earn a fourth season with the Pacers remains to be seen, however.

In many respects, Young is ideally suited for the No. 3 point guard spot on an NBA team because of his work ethic, upbeat attitude, and ability to contribute when required. He'll be challenged, though, by the flood of up-and-comers who flow into the NBA each season. Teams tend to grow impatient with experienced players who aren't in the playing rotation, preferring to give those spots to younger players (TJ Leaf, Ike Anigbogu) who might develop into something more or proven veterans (Al Jefferson) who can lend wisdom to go with their obvious talent.

Young, who will be 26 when next season begins, is practically middle-aged for the NBA, and that can bring a "crisis" for players who are caught in the squeeze between old and young. That's the treacherous middle ground he'll be trying to escape this summer when Kevin Pritchard decides whether to honor the team option on Young's contract.

The arguments in favor of that generally reside on offense, and the arguments against can be found on defense.

PHOTO GALLERY: Joe Young's 2017-18 Season in Photos »

Young had the best shooting percentages of his career this season, hitting 43 percent of his field goal attempts, including 38 percent of his 3-point shots. That last number was a drastic improvement from his 22 percent accuracy in each of his first two seasons. His rebound and assist averages on a per-minute basis were down, however.

It's always dicey to evaluate a player on garbage-time minutes, which is mostly what Young has received in his career. He's had stretches of meaningful playing time, however, such as the six-game run in late December and early January, that provide a window to his value and potential.

During that time, when injuries created opportunity for him to play at least 12 minutes per game, he averaged 8.8 points on 55 percent shooting, including 57 percent from the 3-point line, and hit all nine free throw attempts. He only averaged 1.2 assists, however, against 0.7 turnovers.

He scored his career high of 20 points in that stretch in a 24-minute appearance against Minnesota on Dec. 31, when he hit 7-of-11 shots, including 3-of-4 3-pointers. That performance was overshadowed by the fact the Pacers ended the calendar year with a 17-point defeat, but it still spoke well of Young's improvement.

Also, his patience.

"Al Jefferson told me, you've got to be ready at all times," Young said after that game, referring to the fact he had not played in 16 games to that point of the season and had not scored in double figures since Dec. 5 of the previous season. "Just being ready, being patient, not pressuring myself. Just being ready, that's all it is. Coach is trusting me to bring intensity.

"But it's all about my team. It's not about what I did, it's about getting better and getting back on the winning road."

Young later got the first start of his NBA career in a home game against Phoenix, on Jan. 24 when Darren Collison was out with an injury. Playing 34 minutes, he finished with six points, two rebounds, two assists, two steals, and three turnovers. Collison returned the next game and Young's playing time was reduced to scraps most game. There were a couple of more highlights, though. He scored 17 points while hitting 5-of-8 3-pointers in a homecourt loss to Washington and 11 points in a homecourt victory over New York.

One of the more curious stats of his season was that he never had more than three assists in a game, despite playing 20 or more minutes seven times. His career high for assists remains the eight in got in a game at Golden State as a rookie two season ago. His best stretch of play, in fact, remains the three consecutive games on that road trip in which he averaged 14 points on 51.5 percent shooting, 6.7 assists, and two turnovers.

He hasn't shown the frustration of the ebbs and flows in his career to the outside world, but Jefferson spoke of Young's improved professionalism over the course of this season — an example of how a team culture can mold individual players. Young has shown a charming eagerness and enthusiasm since his pre-draft workout for the Pacers in 2015 but hadn't always appeared to take the job seriously enough. He did that this season.

He still needs to take defense more seriously, though.

He often picked up his assignment fullcourt, without being asked, as an expression of his enthusiasm for playing and to make life more difficult for the opponent. Some of the players he harassed complained to him on the court, wondering what the fuss was about.

Young wasn't a strong defender, though. The advanced analytics, in fact, identified him as the team's worst, particularly in one-on-one situations in the halfcourt. He reportedly worked hard last summer to strengthen his core muscles to help him become a better defender, but needs further improvement to survive another season in the league.

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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.