Stephane will have more on Thaddeus Young coming up hopefully this weekend, but I saw a trend that I had to point out here.
So here it is: The Sixers are a staggeringly better team with Thaddeus Young on the court than without him on the court.
Here’s the evidence. Based on the On Court/Off Court numbers on 82games.com, the Sixers beat their opponents by an average of 6.5 points more than without Young per 100 possessions this season. The only other Sixer that comes close is Spencer Hawes, whose +5.5 is second on the team among rotation players. Since the Sixers average 93 possessions per game, and Thad Young plays roughly 58% of the minutes, the Sixers outscore their opponents by 3.6 points per game while Thad Young is on the court, compared to when he is not. That difference is huge.
As to actual game usage, this is a good reason to switch to a three man big rotation. Hawes, as I mentioned, is the only other player with nearly the On Court/Off Court effect as Thad Young. With those two, you have the bigs that make the biggest difference overall. As much as I like Nikola Vucevic, if the Sixers play dramatically better with Young and Hawes on the court, I’d rather see them on the court as much as possible. And at this point, Elton Brand isn’t going anywhere. So it makes sense to cut short the rotation, if the intention is to win.
Now, the reason why it’s a trend is because the same exact thing happened last year. The Sixers were 6.7 points better with him than without him, per 100 possessions. But why does this occur? Is it primarily the advantage in bench strength that the Sixers possess? Does he play in optimal lineups? Is Thad Young just really, really good? I don’t know what it is – but I’d like to see more of it.