With a 44 percent jump in ownership in ESPN leagues, the market is already waking up to Nick Young. The Los Angeles Lakers swingman (or swagman) returned to action Tuesday night and delivered a strong debut performance in a balanced team win that saw five players score at least 15 points, including Young's 17. Kobe Bryant even enjoyed the evening, topping 45 percent from the field for the first time this year as he continues his hunt for Michael Jordan's spot on the all-time scoring leaderboard.
Clearly a gem in quotes leagues, Young told reporters after the game: "It's like my swag just rubbed off on everybody. It was unbelievable." At least for a four-game Tuesday slate in mid-November, we were all just living in "Swaggy P's" world according to Twitter.
In actual basketball terms, Young produced an effectively efficient line, closing out the first and third quarters with timely 3-pointers while getting to the line five times in 28 minutes of action (he averaged 28.3 minutes last season). In fantasy basketball terms, Young merits ownership as an end-of-roster scorer in 10-team leagues as long as he continues to see similar minutes and offensive involvement to his debut. Seeing double-digit field-goal attempts per game and over 25 minutes both appear to be reasonably reachable thresholds.
In fantasy basketball terms, even as the sample-size alarm is ringing, an expected holdup in the consistency of Young's fantasy production could come from Bryant's league-leading usage rate. Again, a one-game sample that saw rare balance enjoyed by the Lakers isn't nearly conclusive, but it's highly unlikely Young matches his usage rate from last season, a figure (24.1) ranked seventh among NBA small forwards and one that matched the rate of the Phoenix Suns' Goran Dragic. Young's usage rate from last season would sit 11th overall among players this season. The return of Young shouldn't affect Bryant's fantasy stock at all; Bryant has averaged 25.6 field-goal attempts per night in November, so there is legitimate doubt present for Young to reach the 13.9 shots he averaged on a Kobe-less Lakers roster last season.
This all said, Byron Scott's system allowed Young to post a still-healthy 17.1 usage rage in his first game, a clip healthy enough to sustain standard-league relevance. One thing remained clear watching Young launch a failed step-back shot from beyond the arc on Tuesday night: he's doesn't lack for confidence, and will almost always look for his shot (sounds like a certain teammate). Young offers a fairly hollow line beyond points and healthy 3-point production (.386 from deep last season), but he can certainly be a useful asset for those specialties.