We continue our series titled “School’s Out for Summer” where we hand out final grades to the players on the 2008-09 Philadelphia 76ers based on their regular season and post season production this year, as well as a few other factors. Receiving his grade today is the 76ers rising young student Thaddeus Young.
Thaddeus Young was a force on offense for the Sixers this season. Young netted 15 points per game which nearly doubled his average of 8 points per game in the 2007-08 season. He was a key member to the Sixers transition offense, which turned the Sixers around in the second half of the season. Throughout the whole season when it looked as if too many players on the team were playing inconsistently on offense, Thaddeus Young played the role of “Mr. Consistent”. It was rare to see Young have an off night. Young has so many ways he can beat you on offense. He can beat you off the dribble, back you down and give you a spin move for an easy layup, take the ball to the rack in transition, hit the three ball, hit a pull up jumper, and catch a lob for an alley-oop. It is a good thing to know as a Sixer fan that Young will only continue to improve on these skills. The main problem with Young is that he is a small forward stuck playing power forward. Against a taller and bigger defender, it is hard for Young to post up his man with success. You can’t fault him on the situation, but if he is going to play power forward in the future he must get even bigger and stronger in order to be successful.
Thaddeus Young has some work to do on defense if he is going to continue to play the power forward position. Since Young is so undersized compared to his competition he must either get stronger, or find a way to keep the ball out of his opponents hands to make up for the size he gives up. Against Rashard Lewis in the playoffs, you could see how size was a huge issue withYoung. Lewis could simply post up and use his strength and size to back down Young for easy buckets. If Lewis was held to half of his production in the series, than the Sixers could have knocked off a team that is now in the NBA finals. One good aspect to Young’s defensive game however is his quick hands. Young finished the season ranked 15th in steals per game with 1.3 rips a game and on a constant basis started the fast break for the Sixers. If Young were to move to small forward or even shooting guard, he would be much better off on defense for the Sixers.
It’s hard to make a case against Young’s intangibles. He can beat you in so many ways and he has the ability to rebound and rarely turn the ball over. He’s just an all around heads up player that makes his teammates better. In the stretch late in the year when Young was out with an ankle injury, you could see how without Young the Sixers struggled offensively. Young is the perfect fit in the Sixers run and gun offense and plays a big role in running the offense effectively. Besides Andre Iguodala or you could argue Andre Miller, Young has proven to be the most irreplaceable player to the Sixers offense.
Thaddeus Young hasn’t had too many opportunities to be clutch, but when given the opportunity Young has pulled through. When all eyes were on Andre Iguodala to take a last shot in game three of the playoffs against the Magic, the ball was thrown to Young who gave a sweet spin move around Dwight Howard to get the game winning bucket. In many cases this season, Andre Iguodala was the man to get the ball at the end of games while Young and other players just stood and watched. Young has to want the ball in these situations to move up to an A in clutchness. He has the ability, but that ability is wasted unless he calls for the ball.
Final Average: B+
Young is going to have a bright future in Philly and last season showed how much of an impact he will give the team. Young makes the team better just by being on the court and will continue to do so on whatever pathhe decides to follow. With the Sixers, Young is irreplaceable and it would be moronic to trade Young in order to fill need positions. In a way Young is the best thing to happen to the Sixers since Allen Iverson, and he is needed for this team to go anywhere in the future.