Collins: Thad Young 'is our most important player'

Collins: Thad Young 'is our most important player'

February 5, 2013, 4:30 pm
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It was early October and optimism was running rampant around the Sixers. They had traded for what many consider one of the top two centers in the game. They had acquired multiple three-point shooters to surround that dominant post player. And they had a premier point guard in Jrue Holiday.

Sure there was an unknowing about how it would all look, but dominant seven foot all-stars don’t come along every day.

Four months later Andrew Bynum has been sidelined for 47 games and counting.

Jason Richardson, who started 33 games at the shooting guard position, has missed 14 games with various injuries, and his return does not appear imminent; he is scheduled to visit a third knee specialist this week.

Jrue Holiday has missed four games with a foot sprain -- all Sixers losses.

And now Thaddeus Young is sidelined for approximately three weeks with a grade one left hamstring strain (see story).

“When I first did it pretty much felt like a rubber band pretty much snapping and then going back in place,” Young said. “Like the doctor said, three weeks and hopefully I will be back. I just want to take it day by day and just try to work myself back into what I was doing before. ... I don’t want to rush it but the good thing is we have the all-star break coming up, which gives me a week of relaxation.”

“Sometimes you have a most valuable player, sometimes you have a most important player and I have always felt that Thad is our most important player,” Doug Collins said. “He gives you speed out on the break. Last night we had 14 fast break points in the first quarter and usually Thad is a big part of that.

“He either runs and gets someone to go with him and frees somebody else up or he gets the bucket himself. So we miss his speed and now we are a team that struggles to score. You take easy baskets away now we are going to have to execute better and shoot the ball better.”  

Young had an MRI Tuesday morning to determine the extent of his injury, suffered at the 5:46 mark of the second quarter Monday night against Orlando when he dove for a loose ball in front of the Sixers' bench.

The Sixers were up eight points when Young left the game. They went on to beat the Magic 78-61.
Young, now in his sixth NBA season, has started all 47 games this season and is averaging career highs in points and rebounds with 15 and 7.4, respectively. He is shooting 52 percent from the floor.

“It is disappointing because of the guy I have been all year long, going out there and playing consistent and being that guy that brings energy each and every night,” Young said. “Now we have to look upon some other guys to try and fill that void.”

Lavoy Allen and Spencer Hawes were the first to raise the games finishing with a combined 31 points and 20 rebounds in Monday’s win. Allen played 30 minutes; Hawes played 36. They were active and aggressive bringing two of the qualities that make Young so valuable.

“He is one of our top scorers. He is a mismatch pretty much every night so it will be tough playing without him,” Lavoy Allen said. “Guys are just going to have to step up; me, Spencer (Hawes), Arnett (Moultrie) coming off the bench, Kwame (Brown); this is going to be a group effort.”

The Sixers play eight games in the next three weeks and are currently 21-26, three games back of the Celtics for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. If the road has been challenging for Doug Collins to this point, it is only going to get harder, delving deeper and deeper into his bench, asking them to be greater then the original role individual players were were assigned.

“This has been one of the tougher jobs I have had,” Collins said. “With all the new faces trying to piece it all together and then the injury to Andrew all season long to then J-Rich gets hurt. Then Swaggy (Nick Young) was hurt and then Jrue was out for awhile so we have had some key people miss but that is my job as a coach.

“I wish we were better then 21-26, that is for sure. But I try my best. When I played for the Sixers I gave them my body and now that I am here coaching I am giving them my heart and soul so I don’t think that I can give anything else.”

Wednesday night Collins will hope to devise the right combinations of players to have on the floor against the best defensive team in the East who tonight will look to win their 15th straight home game; the Pacers have the third best overall record in the conference.

If there is a silver lining in Wednesday’s matchup: the Sixers are catching Indiana playing the third game in as many nights and they are just 10-16 on the road.

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