James Young got a long-awaited chance to prove himself Monday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.
If it wasn’t for his head coach’s last-minute decision, though, the Boston Celtics swingman wouldn’t even have been in the Big Easy.
Young, who already has been sent to the Maine Red Claws several times this season, was assigned to Boston’s D-League affiliate Friday after the team returned from Mexico City. But just moments before he boarded a plane headed for Maine — Young says he was at the gate in the airport — Brad Stevens made the call to keep Young with the Celtics due to some uncertainty surrounding Avery Bradley’s minor quad injury.
“I was actually the one that was like, ‘Hey, we need to bring him back,'” Stevens told reporters Monday in a postgame interview aired on CSN New England. “I guess that’s the only good coaching move I’ve made all week.”
Indeed it was, Brad.
With rookie guard R.J. Hunter sidelined due to a hip flexor injury, Stevens turned to Young, giving him 20 minutes of playing time in Monday’s 111-93 win after he had earned a total of nine NBA minutes this season entering the game. The 20-year-old delivered, tallying four points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal while contributing on both ends of the floor.
Young’s contribution — notable given his previous lack of opportunity — seemingly came out of nowhere, but Stevens insisted he saw it coming based on how the second-year swingman has been playing away from television cameras.
“James has had a rough go about it, because there have been times where he hasn’t played as well,” Stevens said. “… But he’s just kind of stayed the course, and he’s worked. I’ve kind of sensed that on this trip, he’s just been ready. … I thought he played well in practice. I thought he shot the heck out of it every time I’ve watched, and then we needed a body (Monday night.)”
The Celtics are headed home after their five-game road trip, and there’s a good chance Young makes another jaunt north to Maine in the near future. But we’re guessing Young was pleased with Monday’s performance, especially since it nearly didn’t happen.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@celtics