Q&A with Joe Young — on Houston, his new mindset, and the team’s work ethic

Joe Young is entering his third season in the NBA. The Pacers drafted him 43rd overall in 2015, and he has not yet shown that he can be a dependable backup guard in the league.

Entering training camp, he’s the third point guard on the depth chart behind newcomers Darren Collison and Corey Joseph.

Young’s offense is there. He’s a good scorer and can tally points in a hurry. The issue (mostly) is on the other end. That’s what they wanted to see during summer league, when Young volunteered to participate.

The NBA has so many elite point guards and slowing them down is a real concern for the Pacers. Guys like John Wall, Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry… you get the point.

Now Young, who is 25 years old, hasn’t played significant minutes, either. But that may change this year as only six players return from last year’s roster and suddenly, Young and Myles Turner are the longest-tenured players.

Think about that.

Last season, Young appeared in 33 games and averaged 2.1 points in just over four minutes per game. Like I said, that’s not a ton of time to get in rhythm and prove what you can do.

Last week, at the Pacers’ annual golf outing, I had a wide-ranging interview with Joe ahead of year no. 3.

Being from Houston, how are things down there for your friends and family?

Everything is great. I feel like everybody’s starting to come together as one. I feel like it’s a big movement for everybody. Even though it’s a bad thing, it’s the first time I’ve seen everybody come together in Houston and actually get something done together. It’s a process, it’s not going to take a couple months. It’ll probably take a year or two to get Houston back up to par, but I feel like Houston did a great job on overcoming adversity and coming back.

Is that (Houston) where you spent most of your offseason?

Yeah, back home just to be out there my family. I flew down there as the storm was developing and didn’t know too much about it. They just said there was like 40-percent chance of rain and as soon as I landed, they said everybody needed to evacuate being of the flooding and it was already too late. I was just glad to be blessed to have my family in my eyesight.

Are you in Houston, or a suburb?

I got a house [that was] in the eye of storm, but it didn’t get messed up. And then I have a house in the suburbs. Luckily, both of my houses are good and nobody in my family got hurt. A couple of my other family members lost a couple of things from the storm, but nothing significant. It’s stuff they can get back.

What do you make of envision happening with this new roster that has a “new attitude,” using Myles Turner’s words?

Well, you know, togetherness. I feel like everybody has to trust each other and we have to come together as one team. We’re young, and I feel like we can connect more quickly than a lot of older guys because young guys want to play with each other. I feel like the organization did a good job with that, with putting young kids together.

Young shoots 37 percent from the field and 78 percent at the line. [Frank McGrath/PS&E]

How important do you believe building chemistry, something you never had last year, will be from day one?

We didn’t have it, but like I said we’re younger. We’re younger this time and we’re all fighting for something. We’re all fighting for positioning on this team and we want to make each other better. By us going out there and being together and pushing each other and making each other better, I feel like we can go pretty far. We might be young with people doubting us, but I feel like we can go pretty far.

You have this season guaranteed (contract-wise), but do you personally believe for you that this is a make-it-or-break-it season?

Yeah, this is the season here. I put the work in for it and the organization loves what I’ve done for myself and for the organization, just to keep working and being patient, make my teammates better and my teammates make me better, and we’re just going to go from there.

What specifically are you focused on in this new season?

My focus this season is all-around. If I’m not playing, just stay focused. If I’m playing, stay focused. And just making sure it’s a team thing. I’m one of the oldest guys on the team…

Isn’t that crazy?

Yeah, it is crazy. I just got to use my experience to help the younger guys. I know there’s guys that are older than me on the team, but this is where I grow up – being a vet and learning from other vets.

Does it feel like the team has hit a reset button and is starting anew?

Yeah it is. I feel like it’s a great reset because everybody’s working hard. This is my third year and this is probably the hardest-working team. We’re going out there 100 percent and they’re not letting fatigue get to them.

What are your early impressions of your new toy, the St. Vincent Center?

Ah, my gosh, it’s amazing. It reminds me of Oregon. A couple courts in there, we got The Gun. It got stuff that you normally got to go across town to get because it’s not in one building. Just to have everything in one building – a couple courts, weight room, training room, and the offices in there – it’s an honor. And you got to take advantage of that.

You haven’t posted about it on social media, but are you still doing your early morning workouts?

Oh yeah. I decided this year I’m going to be more silent about it and just show it on the court. I don’t need to show everybody what I’m doing. That’s part of growing, and getting better everyday, and making my teammates better. That’s the plan.

Where did that change in course come from? Did someone suggest that?

No, that’s just the mindset. I just felt like that didn’t work for me last time so I’ll just be keeping everything to myself and stay focused. I don’t really have to show the media too much of what I’m doing in my workouts. I can just show it out on the court.

Have you talked to Paul George recently and how different will it be for you not having your cousin in the locker room?

It won’t be different. We’re all grown men. It hurts to lose him. But it’s a decision the organization had to make. We got good guys for him; we got [Domantas] Sabonis and we got Victor,  and they’re great. They’re great guys and great teammates, and I feel they can lead us to where we want to get.

2 Responses to Q&A with Joe Young — on Houston, his new mindset, and the team’s work ethic
  1. PacerFan4Life
    September 25, 2017 | 11:25 am

    I’m a big Mighty Joey Buckets fan and supporter. That being said, I feel his time is running out, at least with the Pacers. It would be a sad situation to loose Joe Young from the Pacer roster without actually seeing him play real NBA minutes first! Mighty Joe, if your listening/reading this, MAKE THEM PLAY YOU BROTHER, cause this is your last shot here most likely. Defense, Defense, Defense!

    • Scott Agness
      September 26, 2017 | 10:03 am

      This is certainly a make-or-break-it season, as we discussed. Pritchard and McMillan insists opportunities will be there; it’s on Joe to make it count.

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