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News » Young's leash loosened

Young's leash loosened

Young's leash loosened
After a strong start to the season had him thinking he could be in contention for sixth man of the year honors, Washington Wizards guard Nick Young suddenly experienced a restrictive and perplexing change of fortunes.

The second-year shooting guard was one of the Wizards' bright spots in the team's 1-10 start. He averaged a career-high 13.4 points in 26 minutes a game during that span.

When coach Eddie Jordan was fired, Young wasn't concerned about his role - and thought he even might flourish - because interim coach Ed Tapscott had served as a mentor to him since the Wizards drafted him 16th overall in 2007.

Instead, Young felt Tapscott applied the clamps.

Once Tapscott took over, he demanded Young freestyle less and improve on defense. The coach also wanted Young to reduce his high amount of dribbles - which Young said he uses to get into a flow while feeling out an opponent - before taking shots and instead sought quicker pull-up jumpers so defenders would have less time to key on him.

Young heeded the advice and started to struggle. In six games after Tapscott took over, his playing time diminished to 21 minutes and his production dipped to 9.1 points. He tried to focus more on what Tapscott wanted, but the results weren't coming. In three games last week, he averaged 5.3 points while shooting 28 percent from the field in 17 minutes.

Before Saturday's game at Philadelphia, Tapscott said Young's playing time decreased because he can't wait for players to find their shooting stroke when the Wizards play from behind often.

"If you get your shot to go in there and your swerve isn't going, you open the door for somebody else's swerve to get going," he said.

"In games that we fall behind in, I can't wait," he continued. "I just have to go with the guys who are sort of playing with some rhythm."

That night Young went scoreless in just four minutes of play. After his performance in Monday night's 20-point loss to visiting Indiana (two points, 1-for-4 shooting in five minutes), he grew more miffed by what he perceived as Tapscott's ever-decreasing trust in him.

"I was like, 'Dang, what happened? I thought we were the best of friends,' " Young said.

The lack of results also confused Tapscott. He knew he had a good rapport with Young and knew the misfiring wasn't attitude-related. So while sifting through the wreckage of the loss to the Pacers, he came to a revelation. At Tuesday's practice, he spoke to the guard one-on-one and told him he would change his approach.

"I have to take some of the blame for Nick's troubles," Tapscott said. "I think I have him thinking too much. Sometimes you can stress 'execution, execution, execution,' and what that does is it forces that guy to start thinking about everything he does. Some guys are just better playing in flow.

"So I gave him the release today," Tapscott continued. "I told him, 'Look, I'm going to play you. I'm going to play you your full segment. Don't worry about making a mistake. Play your game. I'm going to leave you alone and just let you play.' "

The conversation came as both a relief and an encouragement for Young, who remains the only Wizards guard averaging double figures in points (10.0) despite the slump.

"He sat down and talked to me, and that was big. I needed that," Young said. "Going back and forth to the bench, three minutes, four minutes and coming from the minutes I had been playing, it was hard. But he understands me and what I was coming from. It's going to get better."

While he is thankful for the increased freedom he will experience moving forward, Young will continue to work on the things Tapscott asks and vows to spend the summer honing a quicker pull-up jumper. For now - and with the rest of the team's guards mired in inconsistent play - Tapscott and Young hope the guard can return to his previous form. And Young also hopes to resume his sixth man of the year quest.

"Hopefully I can get back in my groove because I was on my way," Young said with a laugh. "If I make a mistake, now I won't have to look to the bench knowing I'm going to come right out since he's going to give me a little leeway now."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 17, 2008


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