Man on a mission: Joe Young working out three times a day

Young was one of eight Nike players invited to China. [Holick Lee]

Young was one of eight Nike players invited to China. [Holick Lee]

By the time most of us are getting up each morning, Joe Young has already finished a workout. After having what he called “a kind of medium rookie year,” where he felt that he was just “ok,” the 24-year-old has raised his commitment and workout level.

How much so?

For the last seven weeks or so, he has gotten up at 4:30 a.m. to complete his first workout of the day. Today included.

“I just took my working output to another level,” Young explained. “I’m lifting twice a day. I’m getting three workouts on the court a day. Mostly, I’m getting up at 4:30 a.m. every morning for about a month and a half and just working. Just working because I’m trying to get to that next level and be one of the best point guards in the NBA.”

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It’s a routine that Young continued even when across the world in China.

He returned from Shanghai and Fuzhou this week. Young was with seven other Nike players who were invited by Yao Ming’s Charity Foundation. They played a charity basketball game in Fuzhou on Monday — Young scored 14 points in 28 minutes — after spending the first day in Shanghai coaching kids at Nike’s Rise Academy.

Here is Young coaching, along with Zach LaVine. [Holick Lee]

Holick Lee, who is in China and covers the team over on ChinaPacers.com, conducted a phone interview with Young. He was nice enough to share that conversation with us.

“The trip to China is amazing,” Young said. “Really just learning the different foods out here. It’s different, but at the same time you have to learn.”

Working with Yao and his foundation is extra special for Young, who grew up in Houston.

“When I heard that Yao was inviting certain Nike players to come out here to support his charity foundation it was just an honor because I’m from Houston. When Yao Ming first entered the NBA, I was there to watch him play his first couple of games, and I got an autograph from him.”

The Pacers’ 2015 second-round pick (43) played in half of the games in his rookie season and averaged 3.8 points, 1.6 assists, and 1.2 rebounds per game. His offense is there; we all saw that. Therefore, his primary focus in the offseason was challenging opponents and being physical with them defensively.

“I think my offense is amazing,” Young said, not lacking any confidence. “I don’t think it can get any better by just working. I got to add different things. My goal is to add a different offensive threat. I know I can score and that’s not my main focus.

“My main focus is to really get into my guy on the defensive end and put that physicality in him and make him go different ways and not just let him go where he wants to go. That’s why I’ve really been working on my physicality and how close I am and how I am going to approach a seven-year vet when he is attacking me. It’s just learning my angles, and that’s part of the experience and the stuff I had learned this year from most of the vets.”

Young got off to a great start in Summer League by scoring 22 points in a Game 1 win by 27 points. But in that game, he landed hard on his back and he wasn’t the same. After four games in Orlando, Young went back to the University of Oregon, where he played from 2013-15, and got in rehab for “a good two weeks” with his former trainers.

[VIDEOS: Popeye Jones, Joe Young, Georges Niang after Game 1]

Now, it’s back to work with the Pacers. You could hear it in Young’s voice, he’s itching for the 2016-17 season to get started. His rookie year is behind him and now, sporting his true number, he’s amped to see what this team can do.

Young wore no. 1 his rookie season because George Hill had no. 3. But once the Pacers traded Hill for Jeff Teague in late June, “I had to take the number,” he said.

“I wore no. 3 because that’s the area that I’m from and that’s the area that made my name now. It’s Third War Texas. That’s where my high school originating and wearing no. 3 just reminds me of where I’m from.”

The theme to his rookie season was gaining experience and confirming that he can play in the NBA. He says taking notes from the veteran players who have been in the league for quite a while also helped.

“That was my motive — to really go in there and see what these vets are doing, and seeing what’s good and what’s not good. I took a lot of positives and brought [them] to this summer.”

As it currently stands, Young is the third-string point guard behind Teague and newcomer Aaron Brooks.  Based on their listed heights, Young has two inches on Brooks, who has been in the league since 2007.

Young explained how he built a relationship with now head coach Nate McMillan over the last year. Prior to each game, each assistant coach is assigned to a select number of players. Well, Young had McMillan.

“He got me all 82 games and he had me out there for an hour. The first thing he would say to me every time I got out there was, ‘What’s up, rook? You know the opportunity is on the line. You can’t stop just because you aren’t playing right now; you just got to keep working.’

“After that whole year, when he got (promoted to head coach), he called me the first day and said, ‘See what I told you young fella. It works fast.’ We built a pretty high relationship this whole season. It’s pretty positive.”

With the exception of his trip to China, Young has been working out daily at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. And what has been really encouraging to the guard is that the gym has been full.

“The Pacers are doing a great job. The organization … they’re really about their players. It’s the first time they said they had everybody down there. Every player that’s on the roster is down there working out. I feel like the organization this year is going to make a good push and a good run.”

[Newest Pacer Alex Poythress: ‘All I wanted was an opportunity’]

The Pacers open camp on Tuesday, Sept. 27. And the season-opener, at home against Dallas, is just 55 days away.

Lee also shared photos from Young’s trip with VigilantSports.com. They can be seen in the gallery below:

Here’s Young working early in the morning:

And here’s Young working late at night:

6 Responses to Man on a mission: Joe Young working out three times a day
  1. Steve
    September 1, 2016 | 1:13 pm

    Excellent work ethic from “Mighty Joe”. I’m really looking forward to seeing him beat out Aaron Brooks for the backup point guard spot.

    Minor correction on the caption of the picture with “Ben Simmons”. That’s actually not Simmons, it’s Zach Lavine.

    • Scott Agness
      September 1, 2016 | 1:47 pm

      As he is well-aware, defense will play a big part in how much playing time he earns. We know he can shoot, we know he can score. Can he defend and limit the contributions of the opposing point guard in a league where point guard play is very good.

      Thanks for the tip. It has been corrected.

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    October 15, 2017 | 5:47 pm

    […] just took my working output to another level,” Young explained to Vigilant Sport. “I’m lifting twice a day. I’m getting three workouts on the court a day. Mostly, I’m […]

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