Well, I guess beat writers should be a week or two late to the party, otherwise we wouldn't have anything to make fun of them for. Phil Jasner's latest Earth-shattering piece talks about the strides Thaddeus Young has made in the infancy of his NBA career, and his expanded role on this team going forward.
The Sixers' blogosphere, myself included, has been calling for more minutes for Thad for weeks, if not longer. When this e-movement started, Jasner was busy writing about the raw deal Rodney Carney was getting.
Let's be clear, I'm not saying that on a playoff team Thad should even be sniffing the floor, the guy is only 19 years-old, there are going to be some rough patches for him (like when Ben Gordon broke his ankles on the wing Friday night), but his raw athleticism and his desire more than make up for any weak spots in his game, he's smart and the good thing about playing for a team which will struggle to get to .500 this year, he can learn on the job.
Here's an example of his brain, and the learning experience: after Gordon burned him, Young didn't shrink away from the challenge, in fact he sought it out. In the second half he wound up in the exact same situation with Gordon and this time he didn't go for the head fake, he moved his feet and cut off the baseline. That's the beauty of Thad's game, on the defensive side of the ball. He can guard anyone from a shooting guard to a power forward, just like Iguodala. Anyone remember who covered Dirk Nowitzki when the Sixers played the Mavs? It was Iguodala. With Thad and AI2 out there, the Sixers have a versatile defense that can lock down the opposing team's best 2 players, perimeter or interior, with Sam as the last line of defense.
Against the Bulls, Thad was the first guy off the bench. He didn't have his best showing, shooting only 1/5 from the floor and grabbing 3 boards in 20 minutes of action, but as usual, his presence was felt.
In the past, I've said that I think Thad should be starting, but I'm going to revise that thinking a little bit. I don't think it's necessary. Right now, the Sixers have a huge hole in their rotation, they have ever since Kyle Korver left. I think the Sixers should go back, look the tape over, and give Thad the minutes Korver used to play. Korver averaged 26/game off the bench, give them to Thad. Thad can probably give you offensive production Korver did this year (10 ppg), but adding him for the key minutes in the fourth quarter will change the makeup of the team. Instead of having a defensive liability on the floor for crunch time, you'll have an extra defensive stopper and you'll also have the option of sliding Iguodala onto an easier defensive assignment so he can concentrate on carrying the scoring load down the stretch.
However you decide to do it, Young's role is increasing, and should continue to do so. Cheeks has had nothing but great things to say about him, the organization is moving in a younger, more exciting direction. This team has struggled since Korver's departure, to say the least. Give Thad his minutes and give this team a little time (and a little easier stretch of schedule) and I think the team will be better off with Thad in the rotation.
Here's some video of Thad Young abusing Kevin Durant in the 2006 Jordan Classic. Thad was the MVP with 28 points and 13 rebounds.
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