Despite all the changes, Thad Young still thriving


Despite all the changes, Thad Young still thriving

Glen “Big Baby” Davis came barreling down the lane on Tuesday night, dribbling the basketball with all 289 pounds of him taking aim directly at Thaddeus Young.

Davis seemed stunned when Young timed his vertical leap perfectly to get in the air and block what would have been the go-ahead basket for the Magic with 2:11 to play in the fourth quarter.

With 33 seconds left, Young drove the lane himself just as Davis had done, only the Sixer forward’s quickness allowed him to leave his defender in the dust and make a left-hook bank shot.

Young’s shot was supposed to seal the game. As it turned out, that bucket only allowed the Sixers to reach the first overtime after Davis hit his first three-pointer in two years to force the extra session.

Young didn’t let that discourage him as he ended up with 25 points and 12 rebounds to help the Sixers claim a 126-125 win over the Magic in double overtime.

Young is 25 years old and playing for his fifth coach in seven years. He’s gone from starter to reserve and back to starter again during his career.

The lefty forward was allowed to shoot from the outside and then asked not to. Now that the door has been opened again under Sixers head coach Brett Brown.

Such a whirlwind might have frustrated other players, but Young has simply been able to take on every obstacle.

“I feel like he is starting to figure out how his new coach is going to use him and him use himself,” Brown said. “I see the evolution of him slowly embracing roles and accepting how he can help the team.

Young flashed just how much he is adapting to Brown’s system during his stellar effort in Tuesday’s victory.

“He was fantastic. We are going to remember him catching and going on two big layups at big moments in the game,” Brown said. “We are going to remember him stepping out and making some threes.”

“But what I remember is him engaged in timeouts and making sure all the young guys are on point with our pick-and-roll defense and how we are going to guard the post and him making sure he would perfectly execute whatever play we drew. He was engaged right across the board and he showed tremendous character, tremendous leadership, and the stats will show skill.”

At 25, Young is still youthful in age and an elder statesman all at the same time. While he has come to grips with another new coaching style, Young has also realized that he must now be the one to help instruct teammates put them on the right path.

“It is definitely different. We have a lot more young guys, so paying attention to detail in timeouts and coming into games, knowing the scouting reports, that is huge,” Young said. “When a team figures out a weak link, they are going to take advantage. When they figure out which weakness ours is, they will take advantage of us. So we can ill afford miscues.”

Nerlens Noel undergoes surgery on sore left knee

Nerlens Noel undergoes surgery on sore left knee

Nerlens Noel has had surgery on his sore left knee, and the Sixers have not disclosed a timetable for the disgruntled center's return.

Noel has been out since the team's first preseason game. He initially had a left groin strain before experiencing soreness in the knee during rehab, and it was discovered he had an inflamed plica. 

The team is calling the surgery a "minor elective arthroscopic procedure." It was performed in New York by Dr. Riley J. Williams at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Noel eventually will travel to Birmingham, Ala. to rehab with associate clinical director Kevin Wilk at Champion Sports Medicine.

The Sixers expect to have a timetable for his return once Noel returns to Philadelphia. According to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Noel is expected to miss three to five weeks. 

This has been a rough preseason for Noel, who hasn't hidden his displeasure with his role on the Sixers' jammed frontcourt. The team has until Oct. 31 to extend his rookie contract but, per a report in the Inquirer earlier this month, the two sides have yet to discuss it. 

Sixers still deciding who will start opener, how long Jahlil Okafor will play

Sixers still deciding who will start opener, how long Jahlil Okafor will play

CAMDEN, N.J. — Brett Brown doesn’t have many options at his disposal for opening night against the Thunder, but a day before the Sixers' regular-season tip-off, he still is considering how to utilize his shorthanded roster.

What Brown is sure of is Joel Embiid will be capped at 20 minutes in five four-minute segments. Embiid, coming off two years of foot injuries, began the preseason playing 12.

The Sixers have not locked in a minutes restriction on Jahlil Okafor. The second-year big man aggravated his right knee during training camp and played eight minutes in his first preseason game last Friday.

“You’ll intermittently sub that and Richaun Holmes will make up the rest,” Brown said after practice Tuesday. “The five-spot is locked in with those three, and I feel like tomorrow we’ll be able to better figure out how many four-minute sections does Jahlil actually get.”

Brown started Sergio Rodriguez, Gerald Henderson, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Embiid in the final two preseason games. On Tuesday he did not announce a starting five, specifically a point guard. That role is between Rodriguez and T.J. McConnell because of the injury to Jerryd Bayless (wrist). 

“Still considering a lot,” Brown said of the one-spot. “Not prepared right now to say one thing or another.”

Rodriguez, who has been practicing with the white squad, anticipates he will be given the nod. It will be his first regular-season game in the NBA since 2010.

“Yes, I expect, but for me that doesn’t matter,” Rodriguez said. “It’s going to be a big game for everybody. Everybody needs to be ready. We will need all we have to beat them.”

The Sixers' inactive list includes Bayless, Ben Simmons (foot) and Nerlens Noel (knee), all of whom could be starters if healthy. With so many injuries to major contributors and the implementation of segmented minutes, Brown will have to look down his bench over the course of four quarters.

“We’re going to have to go 10-deep. I bet we could even go 11-deep,” he said. “We’re in a very unusual circumstance that players can’t play multiple minutes. ... That, coupled with I think you can’t expect to have the energy and effort that we want on the floor without giving people six-minute chunks.” 

The Sixers and Thunder face off at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center.