INTERVIEW: THAD YOUNG

Posted by: Tom Sunnergren
09/12/12 7:10 am EST

There was a time not too long ago (about 24 months if you’re a stickler for exactitude) that Thaddeus Young had the distinct look of a player who might struggle to find his place in the NBA.  The criticism directed at him: heavy and possibly deserved.

 

After an outstanding rookie season and a middling follow-up, he just withered in the context of Eddie Jordan’s ill conceived Princeton O.  In retrospect it’s not exactly an enormous surprise that a player who’s game is predicated on athleticism and the fast break would be less successful in a system that doesn’t have much use for those skills.  Still, all the same, the plain fact was that Thad struggled in 2009-10

 

But then something happened: Thad started playing much, much better.  He swore off the three-ball and began attacking the rim.  The result: a season after, by the reckoning of Wins Produced, that he tallied negative wins for the Sixershe played 56 percent better than the average forward.  When was just as good in 2011-12, his head-scratching roller coaster story felt complete.  Some chalk up his rise to the influence of Doug Collins, whose arrival coincided neatly with his resurgence.  Some point to maturity, natural progression.  Some just shrug: in the NBA, stuff happens.

 

Whatever the factors that underpin his unusual volatility, one thing is clear: the Sixers (big ticket off-season acquisitions not withstanding) will absolutely need Thad to be his best self if they’re to repeat last season’s run.

 

In a recent conversation with Philadunkia, the now-longest tenured Sixer looked ahead to the coming season, talked about which position he’s going to play, and told us why, when a friend told him the Sixers had landed Andrew Bynum, he didn’t believe him.

 

Q and A, as always, after the J.

 

Philadunkia:  We heard you got married recently.  Congratulations.  How’s married life treating you?

 

Thad:  It’s cool.  It’s like, it was just like paperwork.

 

Philadunkia:  What are aspects of your game have you been honing in on this off-season?

 

Thad:  I’m trying to work on everything, but I’m really trying to get myself acclimated to playing the small forward spot.  I’m working on some things to get myself even better there.

 

Philadunkia:  How will your minutes get split between the three and the four this year?

 

Thad:  As of right now, I’m not sure.  The coaches told me they want to play a little three as well as the four.  Right now I’m thinking it’s going to be half and half.  Half at the three and half at the four.  So, as of right now I’ve definitely got to get myself situated in that spot.  It’s been three or four years since I played small forward primarily.

 

Philadunkia:  Okay.  For point of reference, if you’re going to split time between the two forward spots this year, what would you say your playing time breakdown was last year?

 

Thad:  I would say last year I was primarily at the four. 85 percent of my minutes were at the four spot.

 

Philadunkia:  Which position are you best suited to play?

 

Thad:  I think with my build and the way I play, I can play bothbecause I’m a tweener.   I have the ability to switch between spots, so I wouldn’t limit myself to one spot on the floor.

 

Philadunkia:  Where have you been working out?  Down in Atlanta with Mark Price again?

 

Thad:  I’ve been working out with James Harvey.  (Editor’s note: Thad is referring to former Univ. of Memphis guard James Harvey who now works as a basketball coach / trainer / instructor in the Memphis area.)

 

Philadunkia:  Last year was a roller coaster.  You got out the gates faster than anyone, struggled badly in the back end of the regular season, then had a better playoff run than I think anyone expected.  What was it like on the inside?

 

Thad:  Of course, when everything is going good everybody is great and along for the ride.  Feeling fine, like we can’t be stopped. But you’re going to go through a stretch where you lose some games, and you just have to go in the locker room and say,Wait. We have to stop this at some point.”  I think we did a great job of that, as far as coming into the locker room and not getting down on ourselves.  Realizing we can do something special here, and then doing something special.

 

Philadunkia:  What was last season’s Sixers team?   Were you a great team that underachieved or an average team that played over its head at times?

 

Thad:  I think we were a good team.  I wouldn’t say the greatest — I don’t think we were a great team — but we were definitely a good team who could go out there and win basketball games.  That’s what we knew how to do. We knew we could go out there and just will our way through games and just play.  And we had the jump on everybody, cause we brought back our whole team and everybody else was just trying to mix and match pieces.  When we had that same team from the year before, we already knew our system.  All we had to do was come into the league and run it.

 

Philadunkia:  You arguably had the best season of your career.  What was different?

 

Thad:  I think it’s just maturity and growth.  The coaching staff and the new ownership made it much easier on us as a team…In practice, Coach Collins was laid back and got off us a little bit as far as practicing a whole bunch.  He would let the guys rest a little bit.  He would give us days off and just have a couple days to be prepared.  I think we rested more last season than we did every other season. He was always on us about getting out rest and getting home and getting off our feet.

 

Philadunkia:  Take me back to Game 7 against Boston.

 

Thad:  We definitely felt we could win the game.  We knew we were a younger team…but those guys are a veteran team and they just find ways to win.  They’re a championship caliber ball club and they know how to do some things at certain times to win basketball games.  And that’s exactly what they did. At the end of the game they just…knocked down some big shots.

 

Philadunkia:  On the plane ride home, was there any sense that Game 7 was the last game that core group was going to play together?

 

Thad:  We knew some changes were gonna come.  I didn’t know I was gonna be the last Sixer from my rookie year on the team.

 

Philadunkia:  Where were you when you got the news about Bynum?

 

Thad:  I was in the gym working out.  And one of my good friends came running into the gym and said, “You guys traded for Bynum! ”And I was like, what?  He said, “No, you guys traded for Bynum.”  I saidMan, get out of here.  I’ve got to work out.  I don’t have time for your games right now”, cause he had been making jokes about trades all summer.  But when that happened he was like, “Man, I’m dead serious.  Go look right now.”  When we got back to the house the chef was cooking and it popped up on the tube and I just thought, “Wow.” I was very happy, I was excited, but I was also heartbroken and torn.  You play with certain guys for so long that to see them go just like that.  It was like, we were brothers and now they’re on another team.  Since day one, I was on the team with Dre, Lou, and those guys.  So it was kind of crazy to just see him go.  But I understand it’s a business and life has to go on.

 

Philadunkia:  It was the most successful season the Sixers have had since you’d been drafted.  Was it bizarre to see the group taken apart so suddenly?

 

Thad:  Yeah, it was definitely strange to me because I thought we had done so well last season.  I thought it was going to be another year or two before we started moving pieces around and starting to figure out what we’re going to do.  It was a situation where we had the contracts and it was a now or never type deal.  They had to make a decision.  I understand it’s a business.  I was personally happy with last year’s team and I’m happy with this team now.

 

Philadunkia:  How close were you to those guys; Brand, Iguodala, and Lou Williams.  What do those losses mean to you personally, and as a team?

 

Thad:  I was very close with all three of those guys.  Me and Louwere captains of the second unit and Dre and EB were captains of the first unit.  It was one of those type deals where, wow, they blew up the four horsemen.  We were the four veteran guys on the team who kind of kept everything together.  At the end of the day it’s still a business.  I hated to see them go, but I understand the situation.

 

Philadunkia:  How is the team going to play different this year?

 

Thad:  We went from a running and speed team to a speed and power team.  We have the ability to run and get up and down the court, and now we have the ability to stop and slow down and play through certain guys now.

 

Philadunkia:  Are you going to start?  Should you?

 

Thad:  I’m definitely hoping so.  I’d love to start.  But whatever the team needs me to do I’m gonna do it, that’s the kind of person I am. But I definitely want to be a starter this year.

 

Philadunkia:  There are some analysts who think you’re better off the bench.  Thoughts?

 

Thad:  In years before, when I started, I did very well.  I had two of my best years starting.  I don’t think it really matters.  It’s just a matter of going out there and playing. At the end of the day though, everybody wants to be a starter.

 

Philadunkia:  You’re now the longest tenured guy on the roster.  Are you taking on any new leadership responsibilities?

 

Thad:  I know how the fans of the city are and I know just about everythingthat goes along with them.  The organization [keeps me in the loop] on a lot of things that are going on...We have to go out there and execute, we’re anextension of our coaching staff. I think I have to be more vocal now.  I was kind of a silent killer in the past.  I have to speak up on a lot of issues.

 

Philadunkia:  Any predictions for the upcoming season?

 

Thad:  I can’t really predict that.  If we come in with the same goals and mindset, we’re gonna be a really good team.



 
 
 

15 Responses to “INTERVIEW: THAD YOUNG”

  1. Steve Toll
    12. September 2012 at 14:52

    In his career Thad has shot 44-108 in games where he has taken 4+ 3s for a 3pt % of 40.7. In games where Thad has taken exactly 3 3pt attempts he is 30-90, 33.3%

    In his career, Thad has shot 74-198 in games he has taken 3+ 3pt attempts which is a 37.4% 3pt shooting percentage, or the equivalent of shooting 56.1 % from 2.

    For context purposes, Andrew Bymun shot 55.8% last season from the field.

    Thad Young hasn’t taken 3 3pt shots in a game since DC has become head coach

    In 2009 and 2010, Thad Young averaged 33.3 mpg and 71 games played. He took on average 2.1 shots from 10-23 feet, making approx 34.5% of those shots.

    I’m 2011 and 2012 he averaged 27 mpg and 72 games played. Thad took 2.5 shots from 10-23 feet, making approx 34.7 of those shots

    In 2009 and 2010 Thad averaged 2.27 shots per 36 from 10-23 feet at 34.5%
    In 2010 and 2011 Thad averages 3.33 shots per 36 from 10-23 feet at 34.7%

    Thad was naturally going to get more shots at the rim as he physically matured, that was given. His increase in bad shots is directly linked to coaching. It’s also safe to say, Doug Collins insistence that Thad stop shooting 3s has actually been a negative.

  2. George
    12. September 2012 at 16:26

    Statistically that makes sense, but I think he was trying hard to make Thad a 4 and keep him as a mismatch that way. The way he has been progressing it would be fantastic to see him at the three, I just don’t think he has the handle for it. I don’t doubt that his shot will improve, but his defense is a bit suspect with the smaller players. Him playing at the 3 also takes another ball handler off the court. Hope I’m completely wrong… I root hard for Thad.

  3. mattSg
    12. September 2012 at 19:22

    Wow thad really wants to start . I think it should be
    Jrue
    Jason Richardson
    Evan turner
    Thad
    Bynum

  4. Steve Toll
    13. September 2012 at 00:47

    36 players who averaged 24+ mpg last season had both a better offensive rebounding % and defensive rebounding % than Thaddeus Young.

    Only 4 guys in the entire NBA last year had a lower Turnover % and played 24+ mpg; Ryan Anderson, Marvin Williams, Jodie Meeks, Al Jefferson

    Thaddeus Young had a TS% of 53.8 and a Usage Rate of 21.5
    43 players last year played 24+ mpg, had a True Shooting % of 53.8+ and had a Usage Rate of 21.5+

    No player in the history of the NBA and played 24+ mpg in a season averaged a better combination of TS%, OReb%, DReb%, TO% and Usage than Thaddeus Young did this past season.

    Any questions about Thad’s ability to handle the ball and score, should be over.

    In regards to Thad’s athletic ability and guarding the other teams best wing……

    Thad was 19 years old at the draft combine, Iguodala was 20 years-5months when he attended the draft combine. Both players measures 6’5.75 without shoes.

    Thad had a bigger wingspan, higher standing reach, 2 1/2 inch higher vert, benched 185lbs 9 more times, had a better lane agility time and ran the 3/4 court sprint in 3.19 seconds which was .01 seconds slower than Iguodala,

    Thad was 17 months younger than Iggy when each player took these tests.

    Thad is an elite athlete, who can score effectively, rebound, avoid turnovers and play sound defense on opposing teams best wing player

  5. Jeff McMenamin
    13. September 2012 at 14:25

    Toll,

    I’m glad we can agree on Thads abilities haha. One of the most underrated players in the league. I think he deserves to start over Hawes.

    -Jeff

  6. Hank
    13. September 2012 at 15:02

    Steve

    Why would questions about Thad being able to handle the ball at the 3 be over? Would you say Al Jefferson can handle the ball as a 3? Ryan Anderson? They were 2 of the 4 people that had a lower turnover rate than Thad. Turnover rate is as much a result of how a player is used as it is his ability to handle the ball. That stat is extremely far from a tell tale indicator of ball handling ability.

    I think that Doug made a big mistake when he decided to try to turn Thad into a primary 4. But he still needs work to be a full time 3. There’s no quantitative stat that tells you how good a ballhandler someone is, but Thad did not have the handle to be a primary 3 last year.

  7. Steve Toll
    14. September 2012 at 09:55

    Hank,

    Thad will certainly turn the ball over more as a SF. He will make it up with effective scoring, being an elite rebounder, and playing top notch defense. Hopefully this season Thad has more assists than turnovers, as last season was his first time doing so in the NBA. Obviously there is variance in assists but that would certainly be something to keep an eye on as Thad (please Coach Collins please) makes the transition to a full time SF

    Jeff,

    Our disagreement is on where Thad should play. Thad at SF > at PF. F

    Hawes and Lavoy are both superior to Turner, and bigs in the NBA usually peak later then smaller players. Hawes is 6 months older than Turner and Turner is 4 months older than Lavoy . Those 2 guys can only play PF-C, and every minute Thad plays at PF is time those 2 should be on the court and are not

    Turner is going to get abou t15mpg at PG this season (which is all I’d like him to play). At no point in the year should Holiday and Turner be on the bench at the same time in a competitive game.

    Thad should play about 33ish mpg at SF, which will give Turner another 15mpg to play at SF.

    It’s safe to say Thad > Turner right now, so Thad at 33ish and ET at 30ish makes sense

  8. Jonathan
    15. September 2012 at 13:04

    Look, Steve. I don’t know what you’re saying on this, but the point of the game is to score more points than the other team, i don’t care how many “wins added” thad gets as a starter versus him on the bench, i want him wherever he scores the ball and keeps his matchup from scoring the ball most.

  9. Pat
    15. September 2012 at 20:42

    Does anybody else immediately get a little angry when they see the name Steve Toll at the top of a comment? Sorry Steve, but you make talking basketball about as much fun as a hangover

  10. John H
    17. September 2012 at 13:00

    Pat,

    I do not get angry with Steve’s comments, I find him rather ‘educational’ on stats. Stats are not the answer to everything though. Some of these stats are crazy in my mind, and some of his comclusions are absolutely ridiculous to me. Though he does try his best to make his points seem valid with stats. I would like to see how the greats, like MJ, Bird, Magic, and those types of players ‘statistically’ matched up with the rest of the league when they won their championships. Anyway, I think Thad is a bit overrated. We will learn more about him with the addition of Bynum. I would like to see him improve more on his court vision. When he goes to the basket, I think his defender knows he is most likely going to shoot the ball. Steve, keep writing because I always enjoy reading others points of view on players and teams.

  11. dwayne
    19. September 2012 at 19:46

    I have liked thad since he was drafted by the sixers and i would rather see him play the three.But if they won,t to get the best 5 players on the floor together then you have to play Thad at the 4 over hawes cause i do not like Hawes game.I hated to see iggy go it would have been great to see IGGY AND BYNUM TOGETHER.Philly has really needed a center for years that could score and rebound.hopefully jrue will improve and Turner needs to show up and prove that the Sixers were right taken him number 2 in draft.AND J RICHARDSON playes the way he has in recent years then Sixers should be a contender this year.

  12. Hank
    20. September 2012 at 09:14

    I would much rather see Hawes at the 4 than Thad, especially with Bynum at the center. Bynum had a great year last year, and at least some of it had to do with having a great high-low passer in Gasol playing with him at the 4. While Hawes obviously isn’t Gasol, he is still strong when it comes to passing, court vision, and spreading the floor with his jumper. To me, his style of play will be a perfect complement to Bynum’s left block bruising. The only issue will be on d, but hopefully Bynum manning the paint can cover for Hawes’ inevitable struggles to guard stretch 4s.

  13. Sun of Man
    20. September 2012 at 14:07

    Steve Toll is like Data…He’s good with calculations that can add up fractions with no calculus and be a 100% accurate.

    But he doesn’t know basketball. He knows stats. He only recently became a sixers fan a few years ago, applied his calculation, came into a writing situation and now writes basketball dissertations.

    Sure he’s a stat wiz, but he doesn’t know basketball, he can’t discuss basketball off the cuff. He has to go to his basement add up formulas and then get back to you. He said Andre Kirlenko is a hall of famer. Laughable.

    He’s aspiring to be John hollinger and Tom Haberstroh, at the same time tries to be bill simmons and rick reilly. It doesn’t work.

  14. Steve Toll
    21. September 2012 at 17:21

    I was born a 76er fan, this is the site I for. When you speak of “off the cuff” I think you mean is “wild and wholly inaccurate statements based on vague memories without the use of any real evidence”

    AK47 will be in the Basketball Hall of Fame. He has been an elite international basketball player for years and the best Russian basketball player of all time.

    I don’t aspire to be anyone, I write to inform 76er fans and because I enjoy it.

    My trial by fire begins on Halloween.

    P.S. it’s a penthouse, not a basement

  15. louie
    29. September 2012 at 19:24

    like you live in a penthouse toll. how stupid do you think we are

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