Patric Young has signed a two-year contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, according to Adam Silverstein of OnlyGators.com. Young used that site to write his own pre-draft diaries. Here were his thoughts on joining the Pelicans’s summer league team, per that link:
“It feels good going to a situation with a team that really wanted me but couldn’t get me instead of a team that would get me on the team just to have me on the team and see what I could do,” Young wrote. “The general manager, Dell Demps, called me and said he’s really excited for me to be here. He wants me to play defense and rebound in Summer League and everything else will work out. I was excited to hear from him, especially with him saying those things. This definitely feels like the best scenario for me right now.”
Young’s calling cards are his defense, athleticism, and toughness. He won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award this past season at Florida. There was not a better defensive big man in the NCAA this season defending pick-and-rolls, and he’s a good post defender that uses his tremendous strength to push players off of the block.
However, at 6’10, 250 lbs with a 7’2 wingspan, he’s a bit undersized to play center in the NBA, plus his offensive skills aren’t there to play power forward. This “tweener-ish” label is likely the reason why Young went undrafted despite his defensive ability. But in New Orleans, he couldn’t have found a better fit to stick. Anthony Davis is probably the best possible forward to place next to Young, and Omer Asik is the best possible player for Young to learn from.
The reason I mention Asik is because a lot of the same deficiencies that hinder him also hinder Young. Young’s hands aren’t particularly great (they’re somewhat small for his body), and that really hampers his ability to rebound the ball. His 16% collegiate defensive rebounding rate simply isn’t good enough for a defense-only center in the NBA. However, if Asik, who is an excellent rebounder, can help him learn to position himself better, there is a chance for Young to improve there. Asik is the model that Young should aspire to be, and getting to play with him for at least one season should do wonders for Young’s development.
I had Young as an early second round pick, and was shocked that someone didn’t take a shot on him at all in June. That probably ended up being the best thing for him, though. Even though the Pelicans already have Alexis Ajinca and Jeff Withey as backup centers, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Young beat them out and get some minutes on this team as a rookie. Plus, next season all of Asik, Ajinca, and Withey are free agents.
There is real opportunity for Young here, and that’s all that he could have asked for.