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Swaggy P rankled by his #NBArank

What’s beautiful about Nick Young’s statement that we’ve wronged him on #NBArank is it’s all part of Swaggy P’s charm. While I would disagree with his assertion that ESPN voters were on, ahem, banned substances, who can fault Young for his self-belief? He’s the rare athlete whose ego is endearing rather than grating. His confidence is contagious without being sickening. The man gave himself a ridiculous nickname, and you know what? It works. Who can hate on the athlete who’s always smiling?

In fairness to the Laker wing, he did finish 103rd in PER ( 207th in RPM). In fairness to ESPN voters, PER rewards those who shoot, and Nick Young certainly loves to hoist. Last season he had more than nine times as many field goal attempts as he did assists. ESPN voters might also be factoring in how Young played in former Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni’s spread floor system, getting better looks at the basket than in years prior. They also might be factoring in defense, an aspect of Young’s game that’s hardly lauded.

None of that matters to Young, though, who sees himself as a star. He carries himself that way on the court too, dribbling mazes into step-back jumpers. He’s a throwback, a reminder of an era where isolation scoring was nearly the singular measure of prowess.

The sport has moved on, though, and there’s a new statistical focus on moving the ball quickly, and helping your team’s defense. Fans are less inclined to point to scoring totals when arguing which player is best. You can expect this analytical movement to shed light on what wins basketball games, but you can’t expect it to sway a man blinded by his own talent.

Nick Young believes in Nick Young far more than he believes in our assessments of Nick Young. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be Swaggy P, and Swaggy P’s a pretty cool person to be.