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 Sixers, he 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.