Joe Young enters his second stint at the NBA Summer League in Orlando with a different set of expectations.
Last season, the second round pick out of Oregon was just trying to secure a place on the Pacers roster.
This summer, first year coach Nate McMillan challenged him to carry the team by rounding out his game.
All the 6-foot-2 guard needed was 28 minutes Saturday afternoon against the Magic Blue team to prove he is the most explosive player in the entire tournament.
Young ended the first day of the tournament as with the highest point total and the second highest field goal percentage of anyone to attempt 10 or more shots.
“We all know Joe can score the ball, it was the other things we were worried about,” Pacers Summer League coach Popeye Jones said. “Running the team and working on the defensive end. I thought today he did a pretty good job of that.”
Prior to his arrival in Orlando, Young set two goals for himself entering the seven day tournament: establish himself as a facilitator and shoot the ball effectively from long range.
Shooting the ball, from anywhere on the floor, proved to be an easy task for Young. The 24-year-old finished the contest shooting 8-of-12 from the field and he sank each of his first five attempts from 3-point range.
Any questions about his ability to lead the team were answered midway through the third quarter.
Young dashed to the rim on a fast break, elevated and threw down a massive left handed tomahawk jam on Magic guard Nick Johnson.
As the ball fell through the net, Young collided with Johnson and landed first on his left hand, then his back.
The impact from the fall left Young in pain on the ground, prompting Indiana to call a timeout.
Only once Young made his way back to the bench, he convinced Jones not to take him out of the game.
“I don’t want to be the one that dunks on somebody then comes out limping,” Young said. “I wanted to get up on my own and show that I had the toughness in me. That’s what great players do, if it hurts, just show them that it doesn’t hurt.”
The dunk extended the Pacers advantage to 24 points on the night, as the team ended the first day of the tournament in a tie with Detroit and Miami after accumulating eight points, four for the win and one point for each quarter won.
Indiana thrived offensively, scoring 93 points in 40 minutes as it shot 57.4 percent from the field and 59.1 percent from 3-point range. Twenty one of the 35 shots the team made were set up by an assist.
Young dished out four of those assists, splitting point guard duties with Nate Wolters, but also committed a game-high five turnovers.
As a team, the Pacers turned the ball over 27 times, a statistic Jones attributed to playing with a new set of teammates.
Young’s rookie season ended three months ago, but he is trying to showcase that his game has already evolved.
“As soon as I saw the open spaces, I started attacking and my shots started to fall,” Young said. “I feel like I’m getting better. I’m really leading my team and making sure they are in their spots.”