Don’t look now, but the Los Angeles Lakers have won two straight games.
The Return of Swaggy P
After reeling to a franchise worst 1-9 start, the Los Angeles Lakers won their second consecutive game on Wednesday night at the expense of the Houston Rockets. And while Kobe Bryant led all scorers once again with 29 points, it’s been Nick Young’s presence that has given life to the struggling Lakers.
The 6-6 guard from the University of South California, who was re-signed to a four year $21.5M deal with the Lakers last July, missed the first 10 games of the season after he tore the radial collateral ligament of his right thumb during training camp. But after a successful surgery and six weeks of rehab, the man called Swaggy P returned to action against the Atlanta Hawks last November 18.
Young shot 6-10 from the floor including a pair of three pointers in 28 minutes of action. He finished the game with 17 points, 5 rebounds and 1 steal. The result? The Lakers snapped a 4-game losing streak and won 114-109. The following night, Young scored 16 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and made 2 steals as the Lakers won again at Houston 98-92. So is Young the Lakers’ missing link?
Bringing the Swag Back
The Lakers started the season like all they wanted to do was give Kobe 593 points as fast as they can so he can overtake Michael Jordan at the 3rd spot in the NBA’s All-time scoring list. More than their poor defense, it was their lack of energy and attitude that put them at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. But with Young back, the energy was back.
“It’s like my swag just rubbed off on everybody.” Said Young.
From proclaiming that he’s just a good three point shooter as Reggie Miller to saying that he’s been what the Lakers have been missing, Nick Young’s swaggy attitude and light hearted personality has brought the life back to L.A. Sure, his comparisons and statements are sometimes (often times?) out of this world, but it’s that otherworldly vibe that’s brought back the smiles, jokes and laughter in the Lakers’ locker room.
Backing it Up with Numbers
The thing with Nick Young isn’t just those intangibles because he’s brought back his numbers too, and they’re looking better than ever. Young’s 16.5 points per game is a huge addition to the Lakers bench which is 21st in the NBA in scoring (28.3 per game). The Lakers are 20th in rebounds and 15th in steals so Young’s 4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game are also a welcome addition.
The Lakers main weakness is their defense, and it doesn’t look like they will fix that this season. So for a team who can’t defend well, having Young’s 16.5 points per game is a shot in the arm. The Lakers are 29th in the NBA in points differential at -7.9 points per game, so if they can’t improve their defense, they just have to put more points on that board to win games.
The Lakers won’t stay unbeaten with Nick Young, but they’re surely glad that Swaggy P is back.