We're right in the middle of the fun part of the Predicting 2010 series. Today, Thad Young gets his turn. After the jump we'll project some stats and talk about the ever-expanding role of our starting small forward.
I'm of two minds when it comes to Thad. On the one hand, his emergence as an offensive force prior to his injury at the end of last season screams stardom. The guy was unstoppable for a long stretch, dropping 20 plus without breaking a sweat. On the other hand, his secondary numbers dipped last season, and not just a little bit either. 5.3 rebounds/36 minutes is simply putrid, especially for a guy who played the bulk of his minutes at the 4 and put up a solid 7.2 in the category as a rookie. An assist-to-turnover ratio of less than 1.0 is also disappointing. Back on the positive, though, you have 1.4 steals/game, an increasing three-point percentage, confidence in the jumper and the drive. He looked like he was ready to put it all together and average 20 points/game.
It's going to happen, of that I'm certain, I just don't think it'll be this season. Thad is only 21, he's essentially moving to a new position, in a new offense. He'll be sharing shots with Brand, Iguodala and Williams among the starting five. This could be the season he makes the jump, but I wouldn't bet on it.
My projections are below, with an rationale to follow:
Thad will play heavy minutes, second on the team only to Iguodala. I'm hoping the vast majority of those minutes come at the three, where I think he'll be much more comfortable on the floor than he has been at the four. He's the best three-point shooter in the starting lineup, and they will lean on him, a bit, but I don't see him going overboard with the threes. One per game sounds about right. The shooting percentage drops a little, simply because he's shooting more threes and spot-up jumpers. I'm hoping we'll see him in the post much more often this season, where he won't have the size disadvantage he suffered through most nights last year.
I don't see the rebounding numbers improving, mainly because he's further from the hoop, but I could be wrong about that. Thad talked about concentrating on blocking his man out at the cost of actually grabbing rebounds last season, maybe switching to the three will free him up a little bit to crash the boards with a purpose.
Thad is an integral part of this team, as you could tell by the team's performance when he was injured last season. I'm expecting him to continue to slowly ascend to stardom this season, with the big jump coming next season, his second in the as the starting three in the Eddie Jordan's Princeton offense.
Thoughts in the comments, full series here.