Brown: Sixers' win over Lakers 'validated' all their hard work
Thad Young has averaged 27.5 points over his last four games. (USA Today Images)
LOS ANGELES -- An NBA scout came over to sit next to me pregame at the Staples Center Sunday and asked, “Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young: Are either on the team after the trade deadline?”
It was a “What’s your best guess?” question.
It is also a question that has been pondered since Sam Hinkie made his bold draft night move trading all-star point guard Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-round pick.
That was the beginning of the rebuilding stage for the Sixers.
Turner and Young were both first-round draft picks by the Sixers. Young received an extension to his rookie contract a couple years back.
Turner did not get an extension to his rookie contract this past October, making him a restricted free agent this summer.
Young's and Turner’s future would appear to be elsewhere. My answer to the scout was that I don’t expect either on next year’s roster, giving the front office longer than the 53 days that exist before the Feb. 20 trade deadline.
Young, like most players, wants to win. He is candid when talking about the chance to do that currently in Philadelphia.
“The biggest success is winning a championship,” Young said. “As of right now this is a rebuilding process. We are a young team and there are a lot of solid veteran teams out there so right now we are far from being a championship team.”
He speaks the truth. The Sixers' slogan is "Together We Build," but how far out will we see the structure? Three years? Four years?
“We are trying to build and get to that championship level,” Young said. “We are trying to get back to the playoffs with baby steps. Let's win some games first. Let’s get in the playoff hunt. We have to take it step by step. We go out there and give it our all but we are a young team and we have miscues, and many times that hurts us at the end of games.”
It is the miscues that drive Young crazy -- at least on the inside, because outwardly he always plays with a stoic face.
He can identify with young players making mistakes because he was once that young guy, but in the moment he wants the miscues corrected and not repeated.
“The way we lose games, the miscue after miscues after miscues,” Young said of the most difficult part of being on a 9-20 team. “But that comes with being a young team. There was a point in time where I was the young guy on a team. I would make some mistakes and guys would get on my case, but I think that made me into a better player. There was Elton Brand and Louis Williams yelling at me saying, 'What are you doing?' But I feed off that type of stuff. I want to get better. I want to look at game tape and make myself better.”
Young is only 25 years old. He would hardly be old when success hopefully comes back around for the Sixers, but it would require patience on his part and money on the Sixers' part for him to be a piece of the future puzzle.
“I can try my best to do that,” Young said. “I have been patient since day one. I have been patient since 2007. When the stories came out about me being disgruntled, I looked at the stories and I laughed. This is my craft. This is my job. This is what I love to do and I am not going to let anything take the fun out of the game for me. I am going to keep playing basketball and keep hoopin’ and just be ready each and every game.”
And Young has done that. He is in the midst of a four-game stretch where he has posted two 25-point games and two 30-point games, is shooting 55 percent from the floor and 67 percent from three.
Young’s performances can only be increasing his trade value. They're also endearing him to his current coach.
“Thaddeus’ toughness and resiliency, you are tricked by 'Oh he has hit for 30 or he’s making threes.' That’s not what I am seeing,” Brett Brown explained. “I think he feels good about himself when he does that and perhaps there is great carryover into an energized defensive player, but his toughness defensively is what stands out most to me in his recent games.”