Thad Young helps lead the Sixers to their third straight win
Spencer Hawes ranks 11th in the NBA in three-point percentage and Thaddeus Young ranks 27th. (USA Today Images)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- In the summer of 2007, Spencer Hawes entered the NBA draft after one year at the University of Washington in which he averaged 14.9 points and 6.4 rebounds.
In 31 contests, the 7-foot center was also just 1 of 3 from three-point range.
Across the country, Thaddeus Young was also taking part in his freshman season at Georgia Tech. He averaged 14.4 points and 4.9 rebounds.
Young shot 90 more three-pointers than Hawes and made 39 overall before he too decided to enter the NBA draft.
Hawes and Young never crossed paths during their collegiate careers. The draft rolled around that June and the Kings selected Hawes 10th overall. The Sixers, two picks later, took Young.
The two became teammates when Hawes was traded to the Sixers after the 2006-07 season. The pair are now a formidable power forward-center combination that not only challenges opposing defenses nightly inside the paint but also from long range.
Hawes’ 44.1 percentage from three-point range is tied for 11th overall in the NBA, while Young ranks 27th at 41.2.
There are other teammates that both rank in the league’s 27 in three-point percentage ,but Hawes and Young are the only duo that are frontcourt players.
“You see those guys can sell an up fake because they are respected perimeter shooters now and people are aware of that,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ win over the Kings on Thursday. “Then they can go by people and drive and kick and find other people. It is just sort of a chain reaction to a lot of drive and dish and sharing the ball.”
“A lot of times we have five guys out there that can make plays and put the ball on the floor,” Hawes said. “I think the way the game is going it is a dynamic thing to have the ability to do.”
Hawes’ three-point percentage is a career high. He is also posting career highs in points (14.9), rebounds (8.8) and assists (3.1) per game.
Meanwhile, Young is on perhaps the best six-game tear of his career. He is averaging 25.8 points and 8.6 rebounds during that stretch, while also making 13 of 25 three-pointers.
“What he is doing is playing with a high level of confidence first and then supported by his skill package that is getting better,” Brown said of Young. “You just can’t say enough about his game over the past five, six-game stretch.”
“He has always played hard,” Evan Turner said of Young. “I think he has always done the same thing, but obviously the three-point shot is definitely helping him out a lot.
“His drives from the perimeter are pretty good and his vision has gotten better, but once again he has a big opportunity to showcase his skills. There is not a prized big man in front of him now and that is a key thing.”
Young’s scoring and three-point shooting are eye-catching, but it has been the 6-foot-8 forward’s defense that has drawn the coach’s high praise.
Young showed that suffocating defense Thursday night when he recorded six steals against the Kings.
“I am staying active and playing under control,” Young said. “I am just trying to find ways to help my team get possessions back. The six steals I think was definitely out of them (Kings) trying to make plays in transition and me playing center field and just picking them apart a little bit.”