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Part five of the Looking Ahead series will feature everyone's favorite sophomore, Thaddeus Young. After the jump we'll take a look at his comps, talk about his role in the 2008-2009 season and try to predict his numbers. Check out the full Looking Ahead archive here.
First, the stats. Again, using per game numbers, Thad averaged 21 minutes/game, so you can do the math if you're into per minute or per 36 stats. All stats are from basketball-reference.com.

2007-2008
Minutes/game: 21
Points/game: 8.2
Rebounds/game: 4.2
Assists/game: 0.8
Steals/game: 0.99
Blocks/game: 0.11
Turnovers/game: 0.86
FG %: 53.9
3pt %: 31.6
FT %: 73.8

While those numbers are very impressive for a 19 year-old rookie, I want to take a look at a couple of splits:

Before Korver Trade (21 games)
Minutes/game: 10.7
Points/game: 4.2
Rebounds/game: 2.6
Assists/game: 0.33
Steals/game: 0.6
Blocks/game: 0.14
Turnovers/game: 0.86
FG %: 48.7
3pt %: 0 (0/2)
FT %: 60
After Korver Trade (53 games)
Minutes/game: 25.1
Points/game: 9.8
Rebounds/game: 4.8
Assists/game: 0.96
Steals/game: 1.13
Blocks/game: 0.09
Turnovers/game: 0.86
FG %: 54.9
3pt %: 35.3
FT %: 76.1
As A Starter (22 games)
Minutes/game: 29.1
Points/game: 10.6
Rebounds/game: 5
Assists/game: 1.09
Steals/game: 1.27
Blocks/game: 0.045
Turnovers/game: 1
FG %: 55.3
3pt %: 50
FT %: 69.4

As you can see, each time the Sixers gave him more responsibility, more time on the floor, he raised his level of play.

Let's start with the simplest comp. How many players averaged 8 points and 4 rebounds per game at the age of 19 while playing in a minimum of 65 games? Here's the list:

  • Carmelo Anthony
  • LeBron James
  • Kevin Durant
  • Dwight Howard
  • Chris Bosh
  • Kevin Garnett
  • Darius Miles
  • Josh Smith
  • Marvin Williams
  • Eddie Griffin
  • Thaddeus Young
Not bad company to be in. Now let's use the new stats to run a list. Here are the 19 year-olds who compiled at least a 16.5 PER and accumulated 4.4 win shares while playing a minimum of 65 games in the past 20 years.

  • Carmelo Anthony
  • LeBron James
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Dwight Howard
  • Thaddeus Young
Now let's expand the search to include all rookies (I put an age cap of 23 in this one to exclude older foreign players who really aren't rookies). Here's the list, age in parens:

  • Shaquille O'Neal (20)
  • Mitch Richmond (23)
  • Tim Duncan (21)
  • Carmelo Anthony (19)
  • LeBron James (19)
  • Alonzo Mourning (22)
  • Elton Brand (20)
  • Larry Johnson (22)
  • Willie Anderson (22)
  • Christian Laettner (23)
  • Pau Gasol (21)
  • Grant Hill (22)
  • Steve Francis (22)
  • Derrick Coleman (23)
  • Chris Webber (20)
  • Anfernee Hardaway (22)
  • Chris Paul (20)
  • Joe Smith (20)
  • LaPhonso Ellis (22)
  • Sherman Douglas (23)
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskus (22)
  • Yao Ming (22)
  • Brian Grant (22)
  • Dwight Howard (19)
  • Andre Miller (23)
  • Andrei Kirilenko (20)
  • Carlos Boozer (21)
  • Brevin Knight (22)
  • Vlade Divac (21)
  • Thaddeus Young (19)
  • Paul Milsap (21)
To make a long story short, Thad's performance in '07-08 was impressive. The fact that he did it as a 19 year-old rookie, even more so. The list above tells us that while in most cases production at this level from a rookie translates into something more, there are still guys who didn't continue to improve. Nothing is a slam dunk with young players, but so far, Thad's numbers are very, very encouraging.

Looking Ahead

The number one question with Thad is how will he handle transitioning to the three? The good news is that the three is his natural position. He's got the size and quickness to play the position. I firmly believe he'll be able to lock down the opposing team's small forward 9 nights out of 10. He's a great rebounder for the position. He'll get steals, block a few shots. On defense, there's nothing to worry about.

But what about offense? What will moving away from the basket do to his field goal percentage? Will he be able to hit enough jumpers to keep the other team honest? Will they be doubling off him all season long? Can he handle the ball well enough to play on the perimeter? All viable questions which we probably won't know the answer to until we see them play a handful of games, at least. Personally, I don't think these things are going to be an issue for Thad.

In his rookie year, Thad showed a great ability to do two things: run the floor and move without the ball. In fact, this is how the bulk of his points were generated. The Sixers aren't going to stop running. In the half-court, Thad can work the weak side, find seams in the defense and get himself into the paint. If they need scoring from him, it doesn't necessarily have to come on jumpers. In fact, my guess is that a jumper for Thad will probably be the fourth or fifth option in the half-court offense.

As great as Thad was last season, and as bright as his future could be, it doesn't have to happen all at once for this team to succeed. All Thad needs to do is play tough defense, crash the boards, and take what comes to him on offense. The beauty of the Elton Brand signing is that Thad can now take baby steps in his development. The team isn't counting on him to emerge as its go-to-guy. They want him to play a bigger role than last year, but the team's fortunes won't hinge on him taking 5 more shots per game and maintaining his efficiency ratings. The aren't going to ask for much more than he gave him last year, numbers-wise. But I think he's going to turn in another pleasant surprise.

Minutes/game: 30
Points/game: 14
Rebounds/game: 6
Assists/game: 1.2
Steals/game: 1.5
Blocks/game: 0.5
Turnovers/game: 1.6
FG%: 50.5
3pt%: 35
FT%: 74.5

Thoughts in the comments, as usual.

by Brian on Sep 25 2008
Tags: Basketball | Looking Ahead | Offseason | Sixers | Thaddeus Young |