This is what is called “searching for bright spots”. It’s what sports writers do with a disappointing season. Having said that, I want to give some love to not just one of my favorite Sixers, but one of my favorite players in the NBA: Thad Young. Sure, you naysayers out there may point to his lack of shooting and ball handling ability, how he only ever goes to his left, and how his free throw shooting is a pretty much a guaranteed 1 of 2, and how none of these weaknesses have significantly improved since he entered the league. To you I say: Pfffft.
There are some players in the NBA that on any given night, you don’t know what they will give you. Their numbers vary greatly and they average out well. Andre Iguodala comes to mind. One night you will get 28, 7, and 6, and another night you will get 8, 4, and 3 and by the end of the season you have something like 16, 6, and 5. Respectable numbers without consistency. Thad Young is exactly the opposite type of player: 15 and 7 is what you will get from him… every night. He’ll never explode for 35 points in a game, but he’ll also never disappear. You can count on those 15 points and 7 rebounds to always be there.
But that’s not the best part of Thad as player. It’s his relentless attacking and pestering style. He’ll dive for the ball (see picture caption). He’ll grab offensive rebounds and get putbacks. He’ll create plays that didn’t come from a clipboard, but from a region that is usually followed by the word “fortitude”.
This is a guy who has had to guard guys bigger than him his entire career. This summer, he devoted himself to getting stronger (and to a woman-congrats on the nuptials), and it is paying off. The bulked up Thad is doing a much better job defending against 4s, and is no longer a serious defensive mismatch (obviously not in all cases, some guys are just too big).
Maybe he hasn’t turned into the Lamar Odom or Antawn Jamison that we had originally forecasted when we drafted him 12th in 2007, but the guy leaves it all on the floor, sacrificing his body, every night. There is nothing else that a Philadelphia sports fan loves more.