Thaddeus Young is three months older than Kevin Durant, three months older than Derrick Rose, and about nine months older than Blake Griffin. Heâ€™s young. Heâ€™s 23, and itâ€™s a big reason why his restricted free agency will be one of the more interesting developments during the upcoming (curtailed) signing frenzy.
Young, of course, has the prototypical small forward physique to go with a classic small forward game. Heâ€™s long, athletic, and coordinated, but what makes his development so intriguing is his understanding of where to be on the court. In the halfcourt, most of his baskets come from smart cuts to the rim where every motion is resolute and lightning quick. In todayâ€™s NBA he is a tweener, though itâ€™s hard to see it as a pejorative for Young when he so efficiently scores in bunches for the Sixers. Heâ€™s specifically mentioned working on his midrange game over the summer, which is encouraging since his percentages from 3-15 feet out havenâ€™t been good in his four years. Finding one or two decent post moves to go along with a more consistent midrange jumper would work wonders for his game. Despite his chiseled frame, Young doesnâ€™t possess the girth necessary to stand up to most bruising big men. While he has a hook shot in his arsenal, it hasnâ€™t really been consistent enough against larger defenders.
As a tweener, his defensive abilities are inherently a mixed bag. While he possesses plenty of quickness to adequately cover the pick and roll, he struggles to defend post-up situations, allowing just a few ticks over 50% shooting in the post, according to Synergy Sports Technology. Fortunately, the problems he faces on defense arenâ€™t due to a lack of effort. Unfortunately, lean 6â€™8â€ wings arenâ€™t really meant to defend the Zach Randolphs or Greg Monroes of the league.
But again, Young is â€¦ young. There are a number of teams in need of an offensively potent wing, and Young fits the bill. Though he was primarily a role player on the Sixers, an expanded role â€“ either on the Sixers or elsewhere — especially at this stage in his career, could lead to a breakout season. According to Sports Illustratedâ€™s Chris Mannix, teams are taking notice, and a hefty offer from another team could very well cost Philadelphia an important piece to their developing nucleus:
Itâ€™d be a low-risk, high-reward move. In one year with Doug Collins, one of the most anal-retentive coaches in the league, heâ€™s become a highly efficient, low-mistake player who still has all the time in the world to tack on more skills. But the Sixers are surely measuring their steps carefully. In trying to build a contender through Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand, the team blew max money on guys who would eventually turn out to be glorified role players. The dread that preempts Youngâ€™s free agency is clear, but it shouldnâ€™t paralyze the organization. Heâ€™s a good player worth the money heâ€™ll be offered. Heâ€™s worth the chance.
No team should expect a star right away, but there is still hope â€“ and time — on that front. He has an unteachable knack for scoring, and it shouldnâ€™t be long before his skills catch up with his decisiveness. Even at its absolute floor, Youngâ€™s skills are still in high demand. Any team could use an athletic slasher with actual scoring ability. But there is time for more than just that, and the Sixers are rightfully worried that teams will be ready to make the steep investment.