Up next in our "Feelings On" series, Mr. Thaddeus Young. A prodigy his rookie season, emerging as a number-one scoring option late in his sophomore year, only to regress to the point of irrelevance under the watchful eye of Fast Eddie Jordan. What do you see Thad's role as going forward in Philly?
If Thad is going to be a starter, or really even a long-term member of this team (considering his status as a restricted free agent next summer), we're going to need to answer a very important question and he's going to have to make drastic improvements in at least one area of his game.
The question, is he a three or is he a four? Will he move Iguodala over to the two and be able to handle the added responsibility on the offensive end of the floor as a small forward or will he remain an under-sized power forward?
For me, the answer is pretty simple. If he's going to be a four, he absolutely must rebound better. The advantages he gives you as a "strech" four don't mean a whole lot if playing him kills the team's defensive rebounding. If he's going to be a three, he has to be at least a league-average three-point shooter. He's also probably going to have to improve his handle and figure out how to make plays for teammates, at least a little bit.
Can he make those improvements? I have serious doubts. I'm willing to place a lot of the blame for Thad's regression on Eddie Jordan and Randy Ayers, but he wasn't a viable starter at the end of 2008-2009 either. He needed to grow back then, he needed to improve the same areas of his game we're looking for improvement in now.
If the Sixers don't draft Wall, Turner or Johnson and also don't bring in a starting SG/SF via trade or free agency, That should be the starting small forward heading into the season in October. A tough decision is going to have to be made next summer and this team needs an extended look to figure out exactly what they have in Thad. He's only 21, it isn't quite too late, but if they waste another year bouncing him around without really seeing if he can handle either position, there's really no way to make an informed decision whether he should be extended beyond his rookie contract or not.
My gut feeling is Thad's skills will never allow him to be a traditional starting three or four. His long-term role will be as a tweener off the bench who can speed the pace up a bit, get out in transition, use his quickness to beat lumbering PFs in the paint and his size to back down smaller perimeter players. It's not a useless skill set, but as with so many pieces of this roster, it's hard to define a role for him and the things he doesn't do may cause more damage than the good that comes from his gifts.
I'm hoping a new coach can get more out of Thad in one of the key areas of weakness, but I'm not holding my breath.
Thoughts in the comments, as usual.