Thaddeus Young Interview: On His Future in Philly, Potential Lockout, Allen Iverson, and Twitter

Thaddeus Young Interview: On His Future in Philly, Potential Lockout, Allen Iverson, and Twitter

Thaddeus Young emerged as one of the key players in the Sixers playoff run this season. The serious Sixth Man of the Year candidate is holding Thaddeus Young 21 Hoops, a basketball camp for kids, next week in King of Prussia and chatted with us this afternoon about his future, the potential NBA lockout, Coach Collins, Allen Iverson, and which of his teammates is best/worst on Twitter.

Enrico: So yesterday was your birthday, did you do anything exciting to celebrate?

Thad Young: No. I didn't do anything exciting. Just lived my birthday as any other day. Being the middle of the week, you can't really do too much anyway.

Enrico: The Sixers recently tendered you a qualifying offer which allows them to match any offers you receive from other teams. What would be your ideal situation for you going forward?

Thad: Just looking for something long term, try to keep building on the team chemistry. I definitely don't want to have to sign a qualifying offer to play for one year. I want to be with Philadelphia. I want to be here long term. That's the team I've been with, that's the team I was drafted by. I'm like brothers with those guys now. I have a great relationship with the coaching staff and the front office. It's been an ideal situation. I love being there.

Enrico: How worried are you about potentially being a free agent during this mess with the CBA and a possible lockout? How is it changing the way you're approaching the off-season?

Thad: I'm definitely going to approach the offseason by doing the same thing I've always been doing. The only thing I'm probably not doing is playing five-on-five. Other than that I'm still working out, still shooting, still trying to stay in conditioning shape.

Enrico: Does the NFL lockout situation worry you about what's next with the NBA?

Thad: You definitely have to be conscious of it and be worried about it. This is 400+ guys livelihood. This is how we eat and stuff like that. At the end of the day, if you save well, you'll be fine. It's still something we love to do. We don't want to have a long summer and not play basketball for a whole year. We'd rather go out there and play the game we love so much.

Enrico: It seems like Coach Collins really took a shine to you as the season went on. What do you think made his relationship with the team's core guys such a positive one, and do you think he'll be able to maintain those bonds for the next season and beyond?

Thad: Yes, definitely. Coach Collins is a guy that's going to stay on you and coach you really hard-nosed. He wants the best out of each and every one of his players, it's just a matter if you can see that or not. Some guys had a hard time seeing it initially, but once he did form that relationship, the guys who bought into it really succeeded and played well. For instance, Jodie Meeks and Jrue Holiday, those guys really took off this season and had two great seasons.

Enrico: During your exit interview at the end of the season, which parts of your game did Doug Collins say he most wanted you to work on?

Thad: Pretty much developing that mid-range jumper like [Elton] has. They know I can do just about anything, and they want me to develop that mid-range jumper to where it's consistent, so that I knock down every wide open shot. Since I can't play five-on-five, that's pretty much all I've been doing is shooting jump shots.

Enrico: Are you comfortable in your role as a first-guy-off-the-bench scorer? You excelled in the role last year, but moving forward, are you hoping to play somewhere where you'll have the chance to be a starter again?

Thad: It's all about what the team needs. The team needed me to come off the bench so I had to buy into the role. It was hard at first to buy into it because I felt like I should have been starting, but at the end of the day we won games. When the game plan was fulfilled, with me being the sixth man, we had a successful season. It's whatever the team wants. If they want me to continue to be the sixth man or start at the three or the four, it doesn't matter.

Enrico: Were you rooting against the Heat in the finals? Did you talk to any of the other guys about it?

Thad: I wasn't really rooting against them, no. That was just an amazing series, maybe one of the best ever. The Heat hung tough though.

Random Stuff:

Enrico: Do you think Allen Iverson has anything left to offer the NBA? What was he like as a teammate when you played with him during his second stint with the Sixers?

Thad: It was pretty cool being Allen's teammate. When he came to the team, he had people waiting for him outside of the hotel and stuff like that. We had a chance to see what it was like when Aaron McKie and that first set of guys played with him. He was like a rock star with that team. I think he still has something left in the tank. He's a great guy. I actually sat next to him in the locker room at the practice facility. He would call me "Young Punk" and stuff like that. He's funny, I like him as a person. And he definitely wasn't the same guy people may have told you about. He's actually really humble. He brought a great and positive attitude to the locker room.

Enrico: Toughest player you've ever guarded?

Thad: Dwyane Wade is definitely the toughest to guard. He's got that crazy first move that's just so quick.

Enrico: Including your coaches (Collins, Snyder, McKie) who is the best shooter during practices at PCOM?

Thad: Aaron McKie or Coach Curry. [Curry] doesn't shoot the three, but he has that nice mid-range game. Aaron McKie has the three pointer and the mid-range game.

Enrico: Favorite things to do in Philly? Restaurants? Hidden gems?

Thad: I like to probably go to Del Frisco's Steak House, that's about it. I like to do regular stuff. I do like to go to the movies though. I like to see all the new movies that come out.

Enrico: Which of your teammates are the best/worst at Twitter?

Thad: Lou Will is definitely the best. Marreese Speights is definitely the worst. I can't even understand what he's saying half the time.

Enrico: Can you ask Lou Williams to unblock me on Twitter? What's up with that?

Thad: [laughs] He does love to block anybody that says anything negative about him. I can ask for you though.

*

Finally, tell us a little bit about your basketball camp. (Details: June 27-July 1, Competitive Edge Sports, 320 South Henderson Road, King of Prussia, PA  19046)

It should be a lot of fun. It's for kids from 7-17 years old. They can register at http://www.thadyoung.com . We really focus on all aspects of the game, from improving shooting and dribbling to defense, rebounding, an
d post moves. It should be a real fun environment and a chance to interact with the local kids.

Eagles-Bengals Week 13: What they're saying

Eagles-Bengals Week 13: What they're saying

The Eagles have left themselves little to no room for error. 

A second consecutive loss dropped the Eagles (5-6) under .500 for the first time this season and pushed them a game and a half behind the Redskins (6-4-1) for the second wild card spot, with a number of teams still vying for that sixth and final position.

Now the Eagles will try to keep their fading playoff hopes alive as they travel to Cincinnati to face the struggling Bengals (3-7-1). Cincinnati is currently riding a three-game losing streak and hasn't won a game since Oct. 23. 

The last time these two teams met was all the way back in 2012, when the Bengals routed Nick Foles and the Eagles at the Linc, 34-13.

To find out more about the A.J. Green-less Bengals, here's what they're saying about the Eagles' Week 13 opponent heading into Sunday.

Starting slow …
The Bengals' problems this season have started on their first defensive drive. While Cincinnati boasts an average scoring defense at 17th overall (22.3 points per game), opposing offenses have scored with ease against the Bengals to open games.

In seven of the Bengals' first 11 games, the opposition has scored on its opening drive, with a touchdown coming six times of those times. In over half of their games the Bengals have trailed after the first quarter, in which they have gone 1-5.

According to Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer, if Cincinnati's defense could get off to a fast start it could help turn around the Bengals' fortunes down the stretch.

"On one hand, this seems like it should be easy enough to do. It’s just one possession," Owczarski wrote. "And, the Bengals are allowing 20.0 points per game over their last five games – a number that would be 10th in the NFL – and allowing 18.7 over their last three. But for some reason, opposing teams have been able to carve up the Bengals defense on the first drive and score touchdowns to give their team an immediate advantage. If the Bengals can avoid that defensively, it may create the change at the end of the game the team needs."

… finishing slower
While their defense has came up small at beginning of games, the Bengals' offense has sputtered at the end of games.

In fourth quarters Andy Dalton and company have mustered just one touchdown and 13 points overall in the past six weeks. For the season, the Bengals are averaging 4.1 points in the final quarter (31st overall) and are tied with the Giants for the most total punts in fourth quarters.

According to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals' offensive output in fourth quarters has been historically bad compared to the rest of the Marvin Lewis era.

"The Bengals are on pace for 66 fourth quarter points on the season. The dreadful number lags far behind all but one season in the Marvin Lewis Era. Only the debacle of the 2008 season with a Carson Palmer injury saw a smaller output," Dehner Jr. wrote. "... The defense owns a fair share of blame in the fourth quarter failure, though much of their mystery comes with the first drive of the game where they have allowed a touchdown in six of the last eight weeks. As for how the final quarter came to this epic fail, like anything, theories are abound though they matter little anymore."

Red Rocket coming back down to earth
Following a strong 2015 campaign that saw him throw 25 touchdowns compared to seven interceptions and boast a 106.2 quarterback rating, Andy Dalton has come back down to earth this season. Dalton has 12 touchdowns compared to six interceptions and a quarterback rating of 89.7.

Dalton is currently riding a streak of four games where he hasn't posted a quarterback rating any higher than 81.8 and it certainly hasn't helped his cause that star wideout A.J. Green has been out of the lineup for the past game-plus with a hamstring injury.

Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com listed Dalton as one of the six Cincinnati players to watch Sunday, as he'll be going against a capable defense that's looking to back on track.

"Dalton told ESPN that his shoulder was fine despite being on the injury report for two straight weeks," Terrell wrote. "But something is amiss, whether it’s his shoulder, his receivers or his offensive line. He hasn’t had a passing rating of more than 80 since Oct. 23, and the Bengals offense has struggled with only one touchdown in the last six quarters."

Predictions
Vegas has this game even as a pick-em and that was reflected in this week's national prediction roundup, with the Bengals gaining just a slight edge overall. 

ESPN: Six of nine experts picked the Bengals

CBS Sports: Five of eight experts picked the Bengals

FOX Sports: Four of five experts picked the Eagles

Eagles-Bengals: 5 matchups to watch

Eagles-Bengals: 5 matchups to watch

The Eagles (5-6) have lost six of their last eight games and travel to Cincinnati to face a Bengals team that dropped to 3-7-1 last week. 

Judging by the records, this is a game the Eagles should win easily, but of course it's not that easy. And these two teams aren't that far apart (see story)

The Eagles are absolutely desperate. They would likely need to win their last five games to make the playoffs. 

It'll have to start with a win in Cinci this weekend. Here are five matchups to watch. 

Wendell Smallwood vs. Bengals' run D
With Ryan Mathews (knee) out again this week, expect to see plenty of rookie Smallwood on Sunday afternoon (see story). He carried the ball just nine times against the Packers, but the Eagles barely ran the ball. On Friday, Doug Pederson said Smallwood wasn't the reason why. 

There should be some decent opportunity for Smallwood this weekend against a Bengals defense that has given up 120.5 yards per game on the ground, the fifth worst average in the NFL. They've given up 100-plus yards on the ground if four of the last five weeks. 

Allen Barbre vs. Carlos Dunlap
Dunlap leads the Bengals with 6½ sacks and he'll get to face off against Barbre, who's a veteran but is now out of position. With rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai still out with his knee injury, Barbre is the new right tackle. 

Another matchup will be Geno Atkins vs. the Eagles' guards. Atkins lines up on both sides of the line, but he'll likely see plenty of Stefen Wisniewski instead of Brandon Brooks. 

Tyler Eifert vs. Malcolm Jenkins/Nigel Bradham
With the injury to A.J. Green, whom Eifert said was the Bengals' best player, Eifert has become Cincinnati's No. 1 target. 

He was targeted 11 times and had five catches for 68 yards and a touchdown last week against the Ravens. 

He'll see a mix of Jenkins and Bradham on him this Sunday. 

Cedric Ogbuehi vs. Brandon Graham
The Bengals have one really good offensive tackle on the left side of the line (Andrew Witworth) and Ogbuehi on the other. So far this season, Ogbuehi, according to ProFootballFocus, has given up eight sacks, three quarterback hits and 29 quarterback hurries. Only three offensive tackles have given up more sacks than Ogbuehi this year. 

With Witworth likely shutting down Barwin and with Fletcher Cox likely getting double-teamed inside, Graham vs. Ogbuehi might be the Eagles' best opportunity to create pressure. 

Jeremy Hill vs. Eagles run defense
The Eagles, at times this season, have had trouble with running backs who run hard. And they've at times had trouble with missing tackles. 

That could be a problem against Hill. This could be a grind-it-out type of game for both teams, which means Hill could play a huge role. Of his 644 rushing yards this year, 404 have come after contact. To put that into perspective, Ezekiel Elliott leads the league in rushing yards after contact, but 62.7 percent of Hill's yards have come after contact, compared to 57 percent of Elliott's.