Young embraces veteran role for rebuilding Sixers

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Young embraces veteran role for rebuilding Sixers

Thaddeus Young was back in Philadelphia this week, lending a hand to the community as he has done for the past six years.

Young hosted a children's basketball camp at Girard College. He was present every morning before heading over to the Sixers’ practice facility to work out.

Like any person associated with the Sixers, Young has repeatedly been asked the same set of questions by friends and strangers alike throughout the summer:

“'Who’s the coach? Have you guys found a coach yet?'” Young repeated, smiling. 

He always responds with the same answer.

“No, but we have been interviewing people and going through the necessary process to find the right coach,” Young said.

That's as straightforward as it gets. However, the 25-year-old forward would not be completely in the wrong if he were to show some frustration with the Sixers' situation at head coach. After all, Young, who enters his seventh season in the league as the longest-tenured Sixer on the roster, has seen his share of new faces holding a clipboard during games.

“This will be my fifth coach. Maurice Cheeks, Tony DiLeo, Eddie Jordan, Doug Collins and then this person,” Young said. “That is a hard-fought six years. I am going into my seventh [season]. Hopefully, this next coach is here for a very long time like a Coach Popovich. Hopefully, we can have some longevity and I can continue to be a part of the Sixers.”

Young ran into Michael Curry during one of his trips to PCOM. Similar to how people have had questions for Young, he had one of his own for the man who served as the Sixers' associate head coach under Doug Collins.

“I walked in and said, 'Are they going to give you the job or what?” Young recounted. “He said he didn’t know but that he was going to continue to do his job, 'do what I need to do to help you guys get better.’

Curry has continued to do just that, even coaching the Sixers' summer league team in Orlando.

Young believes that work ethic and a familiarity with the team makes Curry a nice replacement for Collins.

"I think he would be the perfect man for the job. He already knows the players and he knows what we need and what we need structure-wise to win games," Young said. "And he is great defensively. He is a great candidate for the job and I for sure would love to see him as a coach. But that is Sam’s (Hinkie) job. To go out there and basically find the best coach, the best person for the job.”

Hinkie has been the Sixers' president and general manager since mid-May. He made his first splash on draft night when he traded All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for Nerlens Noel and a protected first-round draft pick in 2014.

“My first tweet was ‘Wow,’” Young said. “I talked to Jrue, because at the time he was preparing for his wedding, but he said he was actually house shopping at the time he found out he was moved. I said, ‘Are you serious?’ And he said, ‘Yep.’ It was one of those situations where it snuck up on all of us. It is the nature of the business and we just have to keep ourselves prepared for any given day.”

Young does not worry about his own stability with the team that drafted him in 2007 despite having the highest salary on the current roster. He is owed nearly $27.5 million for the next three seasons and is playing for an organization that is looking to be in a great salary cap position in the future to attract high-profile free agents.

“Anybody can be traded in the NBA,” Young said. “Any given day, someone can get traded and have to move to the next city. This is the NBA. It is the life we live in and the job we chose.

"I don’t have any worries about getting traded. If I get traded, it was a business decision, a move that had to be made. If I am not, then you know what you are going to get out of me. I am going to be here each and every day, 24/7, ready to go hard for my team.”

That team Young is prepared to go to battle for is unquestionably in rebuilding mode. The Sixers will likely start a rookie point guard in Michael Carter-Williams and Noel is still months away from being ready for game action after undergoing surgery in February to repair a torn ACL.

Young understands the Sixers' outlook for next season and that bleak times could be ahead. He is also prepared for the emotions that come along with a rebuilding franchise and is prepared to help the younger players that might not exactly know how to handle the situation.

“It is the toughest ever,” Young said. “The first text message I sent to MCW was ‘The ball is going to be in your hands with you being the point guard and floor general. You are going to take the blame for a lot of stuff. I am going to try and help you. I’ll say it was my fault because that is what veterans do.'

"They try and keep the young guys’ bad thoughts out of their head. You say it was my fault and then go to them and say, 'Try and do it this way and that will be the right way.’ I am going to try and help him as much as possible.”

Currently, Young, who averaged 14.8 points and a career-high 7.5 rebounds last season, is in the gym in the attempt to improve his own game. The lefty is sharpening his three-point shooting and ball-handling skills because, despite not having a coach, he has been told what style of play the Sixers plan on implementing in the future.

“My understanding is we want to be a running team that is going to put up a lot of shots and try and get out in transition and do many different things with the basketball,” Young said. “So I have really been working on my ball-handling and my shooting.”

Sixers Mailbag: Draft De'Aaron Fox at 3, re-sign Ersan Ilyasova?

Sixers Mailbag: Draft De'Aaron Fox at 3, re-sign Ersan Ilyasova?

This week, I tweeted asking for questions for a Sixers mailbag, and the replies came pouring in. (Thanks, everyone!)

So we changed it up and in addition to answering the questions in these articles, we also discussed some of the topics on PST Extra. Read below and watch the video for the responses. If you tweeted a question with #CSNSixersMailbag and don’t see it on here, don't worry, there will be plenty more answered leading up to the draft and free agency.

The Sixers should explore all possibilities: trade up, trade down, trade the pick, draft third. The draft is a little funky this year in that there is not a clear-cut choice between picks three through five, and perhaps beyond that. If the Sixers like either player, there is the possibility they could simply select that player No. 3.

I’ve said before, I could see Fox going third. The speedy point guard met with the Sixers at the draft combine and outlined how he would fit playing off the ball with Ben Simmons and finding opportunities with Joel Embiid. Is three a stretch for him? I don’t think so (more on why here).

Monk has not been projected as high as Fox, so the option of trading down for him is viable. If the Sixers draft for need, however, his skill set is a fit at three. Monk is their best option for a shooter, and they are lacking shooters. It's not uncommon for a prospect to jump in the draft order based on what the team at that selection is looking for. Of course, if the Sixers trade down, they could pick up another piece (future pick, etc.) in addition to Monk in the deal, which always is worth considering.

Ersan Ilyasova was a great veteran presence for the Sixers this season before they traded him to the Hawks at the deadline. He boosted their offense and, more importantly, helped in Dario Saric’s development.

The Sixers and Ilyasova had different plans for the future, though, and understandably so. Ilyasova, who turned 30 this month, was going to be looking for a longer-term contract this offseason than the Sixers were interested in offering. Ilyasova wanted commitment and security at this point in his career; the Sixers wanted flexibility with their options in the frontcourt.

Ilyasova has put together a résumé that will attract teams in free agency this summer.

The case for Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox to the Sixers at No. 3

The case for Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox to the Sixers at No. 3

Over the weeks leading up to the 2017 NBA draft, we'll be making cases for the Sixers to draft several prospects. Our series will kick off with options at No. 3 (or trade downs) followed by second-round possibilities. The 2017 NBA draft will take place on June 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

De'Aaron Fox
Position: PG
School: Kentucky
Height: 6-3
Weight: 170 pounds
Wingspan: 6-6½

The case for Fox
With maybe the deepest point guard class in recent draft history, Fox has been flying up draft boards in the past month while still staying relatively under the radar when compared with Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball — the expected top two picks in some order. He is electric on offense, and the Wildcats' guard posted double-figure points in all but four games during his lone collegiate season.

Against UCLA in the Sweet 16, Fox scored a career-high 39 and added four dimes. But perhaps more impressively, he shut down Ball, holding his 6-foot-6 counterpart to just 10 points on 4 of 10 shooting and one trey. And it wasn't just a one-time thing — two nights later, Fox held North Carolina guard Joel Berry II to just 11 points.

Although the Sixers have repeatedly said Ben Simmons will be their starting point guard at the beginning of next season (assuming the young star has no other setbacks), they will need someone to defend against opponents' quicker guards. With T.J. McConnell as the only true ballhandler currently on the roster, Fox certainly would be able to help spell Simmons at the point as well.

When experts began putting together their mock draft boards at the end of the college basketball season, Fox was frequently listed as a back-end lottery selection. Now, many have him as a potential top-five pick, and it's hard to see Fox slipping much past the Kings at No. 5 as Sacramento is a rebuilding team still in search of a point guard of their own.

The case against Fox
The biggest knock on Fox is his size. On Kentucky's website, he is listed at 187 pounds. But at the NBA draft combine, he measured in 17 pounds lighter. For scouts already concerned with his thin frame, this did little to reassure them that Fox will be able to hang with bigger guards at the next level — but maybe he fits as a complement to the 6-foot-11 Simmons.

Another worry is his three-point shooting. For the season, Fox shot just 24.9 percent from beyond the arc, attempting just fewer than two three-pointers per game. As a team in 2016-17, the Sixers took the seventh-most triples but ranked 25th out of 30 NBA teams from distance at 34 percent. With the Sixers in desperate need of consistent outside shooting, Fox would need to significantly improve that area of his game at the next level to help Brett Brown's team take the next step.

And, of course, as with most young ballhandlers (Fox is just 19), he has rough spots when leading the offense. Yes, Fox helped Kentucky to its fair share of highlight-reel alley-oops, yet he still struggled to command the Wildcats' offense at times and would occasionally get lost in pick-and-roll defense. Although his 5.8 assists per 40 minutes are a sign that he can eventually grow into the point guard that the Sixers need him to be, they could also use Fox to be an immediate impact player for a team that is finally trying to put all the pieces together.

Analysis
If the Sixers do in fact miss out on Fultz and Ball, Fox would certainly be a good consolation prize. He is incredibly quick with the ball in his hands and has the potential to improve defensively. In fact, our Amy Fadool lauded him as one of the most improved players in all of college basketball last season — he shot almost 48 percent from the field in Kentucky's final 14 games of the season.

There is no one on the Sixers' roster, as it stands, with a skill set comparable to Fox's, but it's still fair to question how he will handle some of the bigger and stronger point guards in the Eastern Conference, such as Kyrie Irving and John Wall, on both ends of the floor. With plenty of young budding talent in the fold, though, if Fox can immediately step in as a plus defender and a steady reserve ballhandler, he could definitely help the Sixers' core of Simmons, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric become even more lethal offensively.

A couple of weeks ago, I definitely viewed Fox as a stretch at No. 3. The more I think about it, however, he would not be an unreasonable selection for the Sixers. Yes, they also would likely have the option of Kansas' Josh Jackson or Duke's Jayson Tatum, as well as Fox's former teammate, Malik Monk, when they go on the clock, but Fox could fill a critical need. 

If the Sixers were somehow able to get the Kings to trade up to No. 3, Fox would be a great pick at No. 5 overall. And if Fultz or Ball were somehow available at No. 3, the Sixers would be hard-pressed to pass on either. Still, with so many talented point guards in this year's class, Fox is very much a worthy first-round candidate.