Sam Young, not unlike our last featured player DeMarre Carroll, was a feature scorer on his college team. Unlike DeMarre, however, Sam Young's Pittsburgh Panthers were a #1 seed and predicted by many, including myself, to win the NCAA Championships with Young typically bringing the bulk of their offense.
But Sam Young, somewhat ironically, fell into the second round due to the fact that he was a 4th year senior and a staggering 24 years old. 'A man among boys' is probably not a fair description of Young's college career, but it certainly comes to mind. Chris Weinke also comes to mind, and I don't think his record f most consecutive losses by a starting quarterback is a precedent to follow.
In fact by drafting Sam Young the Memphis Grizzlies actually slightly increased their team's average age, which sat somewhere around 23.5 years old. Yes, I'm serious, rookie is older than like half of the team.
So get over the jump to check how good ol' Sam Young working out for the Grizzlies.
While you, arguably, get less 'upside' out of drafting a 24 year old player (Note: Personally I believe this is absurd; many players break out or add significant facets to their games well after the age of 24. If there is any reason that Sam Young has limited upside, it's because he isn't particularly athletic.), that should be somewhat offset by the older player being more 'NBA-ready.'
And the Grizzlies need Sam Young to be plenty ready to ball, because in the post-Iverson era, and with Darrel Arthur's injury, Young is pretty much the Grizzlies only option at 6th man.
In another similarity to Carroll, Young was originally pitched as a tweener, though he was clearly either a shooting guard or small forward. But unlike Carroll, data on his play so far shows that Young hasn't really figured out either position just yet.
Sam Young has a much higher PER at small forward due to significantly higher efficiency, his eFG% is 8% better from the forward slot, and rebounding statistics. But his defensive efficiency while playing forward is an abysmal 106 points per 100 possessions. At shooting guard his defensive efficiency jumps to a much more reasonable 102 points per 100, but his shooting is terrible.
That defensive improvement at the shooting guard is pretty much the only reason that, statistically speaking, Sam Young is warranting much playing time at all. In all the minutes he's played compared to all the minutes he hasn't, the Grizzlies are about 2 points per 100 possessions better defensively. Compare that to a 3 points per 100 possessions decrease in offense, and Sam Youngs On/Off efficiency splits are only a -1.
A negative certainly doesn't sound like a good thing, but it's actually solid for a rookie drafted so late.
And Sam Young does seem to have some clear benefits for the Grizzlies. For instance the Grizzlies get significantly more free throw attempts while Young is on the floor because he attacks the rim with a lot of confidence. This has something to do with his replacing the jump-shooting O.J. Mayo, but it is a clear benefit. Also Sam Young is one of the only players on the Grizzlies who has a positive number for net turnovers per 48 minutes. This is mostly due to Sam turning the ball over far less than either the high-usage O.J. Mayo or Rudy Gay.
While Sam Young is definitely not a top-10 sixth man in the NBA at this point in his career, he is giving the Grizzlies some positives. The main problem for Sam is finding a way to play his game on offense while playing shooting guard, which I believe will be much easier for him than becoming a better defender at small forward.
Like other sixth men around the league, when Sam Young is hot, he has helped the Grizzlies. But he just doesn't heat up often enough to warrant that role at this point. I think it's fair to say that an upgrade at this position would certainly benefit Memphis this season, though despite his age, Sam Young is showing signs that he'll develop into a well-rounded contributor off the first seat on the bench.