Former Indiana Pacer Joe Young, who now plays overseas in the CBA, complimented the Utah Jazz style of play and could see himself playing in it.
The Utah Jazz aren’t exactly known as a team that thrives in the spotlight. Nevertheless, after arguably their most successful offseason ever wherein they landed big names like Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic, the recent success of budding stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, and a current eight-game win streak, they’ve steadily been turning heads in 2019-20.
In fact, it’s actually gotten to the point where players are expressing interest in joining the Jazz or suggesting others of their colleagues that could be exceptional fits there. For example, earlier in the year, Trevor Booker expressed a desire to suit up for the Utah Jazz to bolster their bench and prior to that, Kendrick Perkins singled out Joakim Noah as a potential solid fit in the Utah frontcourt.
Well, just this week another former NBA player added his name to the mix. Originally drafted by the Indiana Pacers as a potentially high-octane scoring guard, former Oregon Duck Joe Young put out a pretty cool Tweet on Thursday:
Young’s nickname is Joey Buckets and for good reason. This guy is known for being able to flat out score. During his senior season at Oregon, he put up 20.7 points per game and finished his college career with a 39 percent shooting average from behind the three-point line. He struggled to find his groove in his first two years in the league with the Pacers, but in an extended opportunity he put up heightened numbers in year three, shooting 43 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from deep.
Unfortunately, a lack of size, shortcomings on defense and streakiness as a shooter resulted in Young finding his way out of the NBA following that season and he’s been playing overseas in China ever since.
And while he’s been there, he’s continued to live up to his Joey Buckets nickname.
During the 2019-20 season, Young is the CBA’s third leading scorer at 35.3 points per game. Last season he was also third at 36.1. Sure, the level of competition in the Chinese Basketball Association is nowhere near that of the NBA. But 35-plus points per game is impressive no matter the league, so it’s evident that Young continues to fill it up.
A few weeks ago when Utah’s bench was really struggling, I may have been all for taking a flier on Young and seeing if Joey Buckets could rediscover himself on an NBA roster with the Jazz. Now, with Emmanuel Mudiay playing much better, Georges Niang lighting up the nets, Jordan Clarkson fitting perfectly thus far, Rayjon Tucker looking like a pleasant surprise and Tony Bradley taking Ed Davis‘ spot in the rotation, Utah’s bench suddenly has looked far more competent.
Still, it’s fun to imagine how Joe Young could potentially fit as an electric scoring option off of Utah’s bench. And the fact that he has taken note of Utah’s system and identified it as not only a great style of play but one that he would love to be a part of is yet another nod towards what Quin Snyder and the rest of the Jazz brain trust are accomplishing in Salt Lake City.
Furthermore, as Jazz fans know all too well, since it can be hard to get players to want to come and stay in Utah, it couldn’t hurt for the Jazz to take a mental note of Young’s willingness to play here. Perhaps it doesn’t make sense for this year, but say next season if the Jazz need another minimum contract to round out their team, he could potentially be a great option.
The Jazz have thrived by finding players off the scrap heap, for lack of a better term, and turning them into gold. Just look at Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, Georges Niang and now even Rayjon Tucker in early glimpses as well. Not to mention, the Jazz are purportedly extremely impressed with the likes of Miye Oni, Juwan Morgan, Jarrell Brantley and Justin Wright-Foreman, all of whom may find themselves as contributors for the Jazz down the road.
With all those success stories, why couldn’t a prolific scorer like Joe Young become one of Utah’s next diamonds in the rough? Just as the Jazz nabbed O’Neale from overseas and have transformed him into a bona fide 3-and-D player, it would be worth their while to keep tabs on Young and consider him as an option to bring over from the CBA and develop.
Interestingly enough, Georges Niang was at one point also drafted by the Indiana Pacers then fell out of the NBA. He clawed his way back in through the G-League whereas Young went to the CBA, but their similar beginnings are interesting to point out. Young’s situation feels like a combo of Niang’s and O’Neale’s, so it’s absolutely reasonable to believe that the Jazz could keep an eye on Joey Buckets.
In conclusion, perhaps I’m a bit biased because I’ve always liked Young dating back to his days at Oregon. But the fact of the matter is the guy can flat out score. With so many up-and-comers on the Jazz roster and the bench finally stabilizing, I’ll admit that perhaps at this point in time, it wouldn’t make much sense to bring him in.
But, considering how rare it is for a player to flat out express excitement to join the Jazz as Joe Young just did on Thursday, I’d love to see the Jazz reward his enthusiasm and confidence in his fit on this roster and at least get him on their preseason roster for next year. By all counts, Young is a great guy and an exceptional worker. He certainly already knows how to score, so if he tweaks a few other minor aspects of his game, he could very well become the next of many Utah Jazz redemption stories.
Whether Young ever gets a chance to have his wish granted or not, though, it’s still great to see his shout out and recognize that the Utah Jazz are most certainly turning heads all throughout the basketball world.