Draft Prospect Breakdowns: Kentucky's James Young

Draft Prospect Breakdowns: Kentucky's James Young
June 13, 2014, 2:30 pm
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This is the 18th in a daily look at the top prospects in the NBA Draft: Their strengths, their weaknesses, and whether or not they're a fit for the Celtics. Today's prospect: James Young of Kentucky.

Shooting guard/small forward
6-foot-7, 213 pounds

HIS STORY: Last year, John Calipari brought in the most heralded and hyped recruiting class in college basketball history. Julius Randle was the headliner, followed by the Harrison twins, but the forgotten man in this talented though raw crew was James Young. The Wildcats struggled all year and were a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but they put it together at the right time. Their talents showed through, they began playing cohesively, and they made big play after big play en route to the national championship game, where their run finally came to an end against Connecticut. Young burst into the national consciousness with 37 points in the two Final Four games, including a monster highlight dunk in the championship game against UConn. While this freshman class was supposed to be almost entirely comprised of one-and-done players, in the end only Randle and Young entered the draft. It was fitting, because they were the only two members of the class capable of making the leap from college to the NBA after just one collegiate season.

HIS STRENGTHS: Young is the prototypical size for a NBA wing player at 6-foot-7, with a 6-foot-11 wingspan. He’s a lean, strong, 213-pound left-handed player who flashes signs of explosiveness when attacking the basket. His best offensive weapon is his jump shot from distance. Last year he converted only 34.9 percent from 3-point range, which isn't very efficient, but that was more of a function of his shot selection than his shooting ability. Simply put, he’s one of the best shooters in the draft.

HIS WEAKNESSES: As noted above, his decision-making must improve. Because of his size, length and extreme confidence, he'll settle for contested shots instead of trying to go by his defender. He needs to work on putting the ball on the deck and creating, particularly with his weaker right hand. Teams will close out hard on him because of his shooting range, so he must take advantage of those close-out situations. He's not the most effective player off the bounce and needs to develop a few go-to moves to create shots for himself. Defensively, he's a work in progress. A lot of physical tools with size, length and athleticism, but he needs to learn to compete on that end of the floor consistently. This is no surprise, as most one-and-done guys are rarely committed to being two-way players.

IS HE A FIT FOR THE CELTICS? Young's potential excites many GMs. He’s still so young: only 18 years old, not turning 19 until August. His prototypical size, shooting ability, flashes of athleticism and shot-making have turned heads, and his ceiling seems very high. All the areas of deficiency can be developed with time and work. The Celtics desperately need a wing scorer -- if you’ve been reading these previews, you’re going to get tired of reading that line -- but it’s their biggest need, in my opinion. Young has a scorer's mentality and can possibly fill that role. I believe he can step in next year and impact the game, particularly on the offensive end, and his skills will only grow and get better over time. Because of this, he may be taken in the back part of the lottery or before the Celtics' 17th selection. If not, I think he'd be a great choice for the C's at that spot. He'd fill a need, provide immediate impact, and possibly be an All-Star in three or four years.

COMING ON SATURDAY: Rodney Hood of Duke