The most whimsical and doomed NBA teams in recent memory were those Washington Wizards squads between 2008 and 2012 that featured Gilbert Arenas pooping in teammates’s shoes, JaVale McGee fucking up all over the court, and Nick Young pulling up and laying bricks about 20 times a game. Thanks to the good graces of the Golden State Warriors, the enduring legacy of those bonkers Wizards teams might be two of their most infamous players riding off into the sunset with championship rings. McGee earned one with the Warriors last year, and this season, Young is also signing with Golden State. It’s probably going to work out great for everyone involved.
Young is, of course, a famous knucklehead. When he wasn’t embarrassing himself trying to celebrate a missed three, you could find him dating terrible rappers, getting his shoes stolen, nearly getting horrifying misspellings tattooed on his body, or getting involved in a rock-dumb leaked video scandal. He has the itchiest trigger finger in the NBA, and would seem to be a strange fit on a Warriors team that prioritizes passing above all else. I mean, look how Kevin Durant greeted the signing.
But if McGee’s success last season is an indicator, Young might fit in well. He’s never met a contested leaner he didn’t want to kiss on the mouth, but the Warriors will demand he cool it with the heaves, and given the team’s unbelievable success and the openness of the shots he’ll get when he shares the court with any of their starters, there’s reason to be optimistic that he might listen. McGee minimized his unconscionable goaltends and lackadaisical defense. Why wouldn’t Young also chill out for the chance to win a title?
Signing someone like Young, someone who has looked like dead weight for a few years, is the latest evidence that the Warriors believe their system to be backfire-proof. This is the benefit of crushing everyone in your path. They offer such a good situation that any injury risk or loose cannon will only be asked to do what they’re good at and not an iota more, and that players will be satisfied with their reduced roles for a taste of the winning that only the Warriors can offer. So far, they’ve been right.
Restraint isn’t Young’s strong suit, although he is still a decent shooter. He canned 40 percent of his threes last season, and the Warriors probably want him to do little else on the second unit. He’ll share the bench with Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, who will do all of the ballhandling. Young’s duty will be to spot up, pass the rock if necessary, and hit all the open threes his elite teammates generate for him. He’s a finisher now, not an initiator, and the team will be better for it. All he has to do is not get in his own way.