night's game against the Magic was about as unenjoyable as a 17-point
win can be—not only was the game an unwatchable affair against a crappy
team's JV squad (any win by less than 40 would've felt at least a little
underwhelming), but the Sixers lost Thaddeus Young in the second
quarter with what has since been identified as a left hamstring sprain.
No specific timetable has been given on Thad's return—coach Doug Collins
says he'll be out "a while"—but based on the returns of players like
Manu Ginobili and Luol Deng from similar recent injuries, it'll probably
be at least ten days, maybe about two weeks until we see Thad suiting
up again. (Unless it's a full tear of the hamstring, in which case the prognostication becomes a lot more dramatic.)
Regardless, this is a tough loss for a team ostensibly in the playoff
hunt—with their win against the Magic, the Sixers again move to three
back of the eighth-place Celtics, though those guys have won four in a
row and look poised to continue surging, even with a couple
season-ending injuries to key players. Thad has been the Sixers'
second-most valuable player this season and probably their best
all-around contributor, leading the team in rebounds, steals and field
goal percentage—an extremely odd package of stat-stuffing that speaks to
Thad's versatility as a player. By the all-encompassing but extremely
imprecise "Win Shares" statistic, Thad is easily tops on the team, his
4.4 Wins Added a full 1.5 wins better than Jrue Holiday, second on the
team with 2.9. He will be missed, whatever time he's out.
In a way, though, this is probably the best time of the year for
Thad to go down, especially if it is gonna be just a two-week injury.
That period should overlap the All-Star Break, a period where the Sixers
go a full week without playing, and even Thad misses two weeks, that's
just four games total that he'll have to sit out. If he comes back
shortly after that, his return should also come in time to be present
for the Funny Looking Kid With the Big Hair's Sixers debut, whenever
that is—the latest update now has him coming back in "February," a
typically FLKWB-esque update that's simultaneously encouraging and
discouraging—and at that point, of course, it will be critical for the
frontcourt pair to get as much time playing together, and with Evan and
Jrue in the back, as possible, to see what kind of potential this team's
young core has together.
If this is a full tear, though, and Thad is out for two months (as Howard Eskin predicts he would be),
that's bad. Even if our long-promised All-Star center comes back after
the Break as once anticipated, making a playoff push without Young would
be a tremendous challenge, and one I imagine the team probably isn't up
for. Thad has replaced Iguodala as the Liberty Baller who does all the
little things and whose contributions you can't even fully appreciate
until he's out, and then you realize "Oh yeah, it was nice how he dove
for all those loose balls, finished on the fast break, bodied up that
opposing power forward, and such." He'll get an MRI today, which should
tell us how bleak the outlook is for young Thad.
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