Thaddeus Young scored 20 points in the Sixers' 97-85 preseason win over the Celtics on Friday. (AP)
When Thaddeus Young was a rookie he had to be patient, waiting behind Kyle Korver to get playing time. When Korver was traded in late December of 2007, the door opened for Young to become part of the everyday rotation. He went on to make 22 starts by the end of his rookie season.
Over the next two seasons, Young would make 116 starts. Then Doug Collins arrived and for the good of the team, Collins asked Young to be a reserve. Young obliged and two years in a row he finished in the top-10 voting for Sixth Man of the Year.
But being a starter was important to the Georgia Tech product. After Elton Brand was amnestied in July of 2012, the starting power forward spot was up for grabs. Collins couldn’t deny Young his desire this time around and Young was just too good and too hungry.
Young averaged 15 points and 7.5 rebounds for the 2012-13 season with a play rarely being called for him.
Now in his seventh season under his fifth head coach, Young again is trying to prove his worth to the new regime.
Friday night, the Sixers beat the Celtics 97-85 (see Instant Replay), and Young led the team in scoring with 20 points.
Brett Brown loves the effort he has quickly come to count on from Young, but there is more he is getting from the longest-tenured guy on his roster.
“He has been extremely vocal in team meetings and halftimes and film sessions. He has shown tremendous leadership,” Brown said. “He’s genuinely compliant. He wants to please, he wants to do the right thing.
“There is a toughness in him that is unassuming but it is there,” Brown continued. “Still the emerging leader in his voice is something I didn’t expect and we are getting. I just feel like if we continue to groom him we can help him become a better player and he will help us become a better team.”
This year, Young saw a team made up of primarily one-year veterans and rookies and decided, despite being their peer in age, he had far greater basketball wisdom. Just as he went to the bench for the good of the team previously, so too did he find a way to go against his soft spoken nature.
“I have been trying to be a little more vocal, trying to talk to the guys and say this is what it is, this is what we should be doing,” Young admitted. “If they do not know someone on the scouting report when they check into the game, I say 'you have this guy and this is what he does, make sure he doesn’t get it.' It is all for the better of the team. We are trying to win as a team and adapt to each other but it is still a process.”
And in that process Young is finding more versatility in his game and the freedom to use it.
“With this offense it doesn’t matter if you are playing the three or the four. You can pretty much do whatever you want to do within the rules of the system,” Young said. “I like it because I am able to take guys off the dribble and step out to take jumpers or get inside and bang with the guys. I have the best of both worlds now.”
In his second and third NBA seasons, Young attempted a combined 302 three pointers. He has 355 attempts for his six-year career.
Young has no intention of abandoning his instincts to be around the rim but don’t be surprised to see him downtown too, as he was in his early years.
Lay-ups and threes are the goal in Brown’s system and in that order.