OAKLAND — The sweat soaked Nick Young’s jersey as he spent the end of Wednesday’s practice both defending Kevin Durant and shooting over him. Earlier, Young showed enough to Warriors coach Steve Kerr to conclude “he had a really good day” after missing Sunday’s exhibition against Minnesota in Shanghai because of a right hip contusion.
“It feels good. A little sore after practice, but it’ll be all right,” Young said. “It’s tough.”
It had been tough for Young for three reasons.
After dealing with jetlag since returning to China late Sunday night, Young squeezed in a late-evening workout on Tuesday in hopes both to knock off rust and spend his waking hours efficiently. Young fell on his tailbone area late in Friday’s exhibition in Shenzhen after grabbing a rebound, prompting him to walk to the locker room afterwards. And before that, Kerr noticed Young out of shape as he averaged 6.5 points on 33.3 percent shooting in 17.5 minutes off the bench through the Warriors’ two preseason losses.
“I just got to get in better conditioning for this team,” Young said. “This team demands a lot more movement, a lot more everything. I got to be ready and stay in the best shape.”
Yet, Young argued his conditioning issues stemmed more from adjusting to the team’s faster pace than not entering the 2017-18 season prepared to work.
“I think it’s more because of the system and stuff I wasn’t used to,” Young said. “I think I was in shape enough for other teams I’ve been on.”
Young had gotten the glimpse of Kerr’s system last season with the Lakers. There, Lakers coach Luke Walton used portions of Kerr’s offense after serving as a Warriors assistant the previous two seasons. That roster included a handful of young players, though. The Warriors feature Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.
Despite that superior depth chart, Kerr told Young before Wednesday’s practice that “he’s going to make a major impact on our team.”
“But this is a different situation than he’s ever been in,” Kerr said. “This is the deepest team he’s ever going to ever play on, probably the deepest team we’ll ever have. There’s times he’s not going to get much of a look and there’s going to be times he’s starting and scores 25 points. That’s the challenge being on a team like this. But he wants it.”
Does Young want it enough to be in shape once the season starts on Oct. 17 against Houston?
“I don’t know,” Kerr said. “He’s working every day. Like I said, he looked better today. So we’ll see.”
After Young signed with the Warriors with their mid-level exception worth $5.2 million, they see Young’s practice on Wednesday as a sign he will overcome his initial struggles as quickly as it does for him to take a shot.
“It seems like he’s learning every day with our tendencies and fundamentals and a team standpoint,” Curry said. “It’s been an unorthodox training camp schedule wise. I know he wants to work on himself to get ready for the regular season. There’s time for that. I have no doubt he’ll have a huge impact on our season and throughout the year and understandings his minutes go up and down depending on situations. I’m sure he’ll be ready.”
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