Sports Out West

Lakers news: Nick Young says pride at stake in ’13-14

Photo Credit: Tumblr

Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young has been a punchline throughout his career for a number of reasons — namely his happy-go-lucky disposition and propensity to take ill-advised shots. 

But last week, the L.A. Valley native who prepped at Reseda’s Cleveland High School took a business-like, almost angry tone when told about ESPN.com’s 12th place Western Conference ranking for his new team.

Via Arash Markhazi

“We’re ranked 12th in the league?” he said, slightly puzzled. 

Well, not exactly, more like 12th in the West, right behind the New Orleans Pelicans to be exact. 

“What? No! Out of teams in the West?” he said, now more upset than puzzled. 

It’s not a joke.

ESPN and many analysts and experts believe the Lakers won’t finish inside the top-12 this upcoming season for a variety of reasons. After losing Dwight Howard via free agency to the Houston Rockets, the Lakers remained handicapped by the salary cap and couldn’t add any substantial talent to the roster to replace him. Instead, Young and other veteran free agents had to come aboard for the veteran’s minimum and CBA exceptions to fill out their roster. 

This fiery attitude from Young is a welcome one. After spending his first five and-a-half seasons with the Washington Wizards in obscurity before splitting time with the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers, Young has garnered a reputation for being careless with his shot selection and making mental mistakes. Now 28 years-old, it looks as though he’s maturing, and the Lakers hope that attitude can translate to the basketball court. 

The best thing about this transition is that he’ll be playing alongside Kobe Bryant. While it could play out to be the most ironic pairing of ball-dominant wings in team history, playing with a legendary workman like Kobe ought to do him plenty of good as he plays for his future. Young will be motivated to earn his next contract, while the Lakers are all going to embrace the “us against the world” mentality while everyone counts them out in 2013-14. 

Is Nick Young up for the challenge? If he is, the Lakers will surprise a lot of skeptics next season. 

Photo Credit: Tumblr

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.