Clearly the Sixers thought highly of Thaddeus Young, who this off-season, became a restricted free agent. But as soon as the lockout ended and prior to other suitors getting a chance to steal the left-hander away from the franchise that drafted him in 2007, the Sixers made Young an offer that No. 21 deemed fair, respectful and rewarding.
Young returned to the Sixers for his fifth NBA season, knowing full well that he likely would be asked to come off the bench for yet another campaign.
To his credit, he has become the poster child for the Sixers mantra Know your role. Stay in your role. Star in your role.
Two parts of Youngs role, for many, would be unappealing. He has starter talent but is asked to come off the bench and be a critical piece in their defensive system. Defense, as we know, is not exactly a limelight job.
Still, Young goes to work, performing his role to perfection as was evident in the Sixers' win over the Pacers (see story.)
It is all about believing in a system, Young said. If you believe we can do something special, than why not believe in what coach is asking of you? Coach (Doug) Collins and the rest of the staff have been great the past year-and-a-half, so why not believe in everything they say? They have been a big success for me. They have been a big success for Lou (Williams) and for everyone else on this team. We just have to keep buying into it.
Before Collins arrived, Young was described as a player who, with his quickness playing the power forward position, caused a real matchup problem at the offensive end for majority of the Sixers opponents.
For his career he has shot 51 percent from the field, with that reaching a career high 54 last year for ninth-best in the NBA.
But Young was hardly thought of as a defensive threat until now.
People are going to have to start talking about him and the all-defensive team, Collins said. He is undersized and yet tonight he had eight rebounds, 12 points and he blows up every screen-and-roll. He absolutely gets out there, hedges, gets back there. I mean his speed and quickness is amazing.
It feels great, Young said of Collins pitch for him on the All-Defensive team. It shows that he has confidence in me as a player. That is one of the key things I have talked about with him, me going out there and being a hound on the ball, playing pick-and-rolls or trapping guys, just being very active on the ball and keeping guys in front of me. Blocking shots, taking charges, diving on the floor.
I have to be that helping guy. We have a lot of guys that can do it but I have to be the guy.
He is so disruptive when he goes out there, Spencer Hawes said. He is like a free safety out there. One second he is at the top of the key, he is at the logo and they look to throw back and he is already back in the middle of the paint, and I think that is a huge advantage for us the fact that he can make up so much ground.
Young prides himself on being a charge taker and against the Pacers he was on the receiving end of four offensive fouls. Off the court, he has a soft-spoken, respectful demeanor that has clearly endeared him to his teammates and coaching staff, which makes his level of play that much more enjoyable to watch because good things should happen to good people.
Thaddeus Young is one of the most special young men I have ever been around, Collins said, reiterating what he has preached since getting to know Young upon his arrival as head coach in the summer of 2010. I use to say that about Michael Curry when I coached him. The epitome of a guy to me is a great husband, a great father and a great teammate and that is what Thad Young is, and he gives us a chance to win every night.
E-mail Dei Lynam at firstname.lastname@example.org.