By Chris Murray
For the Sunday Sun and
Chris Murray Report
ABOVE PHOTO: Sixers’ forward Thaddeus Young
(Photo by Webster Riddick)
Like just about every player that comes into the NBA, Sixers forward Thaddeus Young’s goal was to come into the league be a big-time superstar scorer like Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, or Dwyane Wade.
But in his fifth year out of Georgia Tech, the 23-year-old Young’s path to superstardom is taking a different route. For the last three seasons, he has become one of the best sixth men in the league. Last season, he finished the third in the balloting for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.
“Early in my career I said that I wanted to be the man,” Young said. “But when you get a great coaching staff, you get a great organization behind you and great teammates, you want to make sacrifices for the team. The overall goal is to come out and win championships and get as far as you can each and every year. That’s my overall goal.”
Young has become such a valuable commodity for the Sixers that the team made re-signing him one of its priorities coming into the season. Last month, the team signed the 6’8″ Young to a five-year, $43 million contract.
So far this season, Young is averaging 12.5 points per game and is pulling down rebounds per game. Sixers head coach Doug Collins said Young is one of the league’s best defenders.
“People are going to have to start talking about him for the All Defensive Team,” Collins said. “He blows up every screen and roll. He absolutely gets out there, hedges, gets back. His speed and quickness is just amazing.”
In Monday’s win over the Indiana Pacers, Young scored 12 points and pulled down eight rebounds. He also took some charges, had two steals and deflected some passes that led to turnovers.
“Thaddeus Young is one of our best players and for him to do what he does every night,” Collins said. “He’s one of the most special young men I’ve ever been around. To me the epitome of a guy is a great husband, a great father and a great teammate and that’s what Thad Young is. That’s why he gives us a chance to win every night and that’s why I was hoping and praying somebody wasn’t going to throw some extravagant offer sheet at him. He is critical to our success.”
Young said he has embraced with his role on the team and does not mind coming off the bench and giving the Sixers some intensity on the defensive end of the court.
“My role is not to go out there to be the main scorer or the main player,” Young said. “My role is to go out there and impact the game and be a game-changer. That’s what I want to do for the rest of my years is to be a game-changer.”
For Young that could mean pulling down a key rebound, playing defense or hit that critical bucket down the stretch of a game. Sixers guard Lou Williams said a lot of what Young does is not always measured in raw numbers.
“It goes without saying taking four charges (against Indiana) and five deflections, those are things that aren’t going to go in the box score,” Williams said. “He’s had some big ones for us down the stretch and he’s been doing that his entire career for us. Even before that I’ve always known Thaddeus to be a energy guy that gives you something on the defensive end.”
Young believes that he can elevate his role to superstar status in the way that Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman did during the course of his spectacular, but controversial career– sans all the tattoos and body piercings.
“Dennis Rodman was definitely a great player as far as rebounding, blocking shots and defending guys. I definitely can see that,” said Young, who doesn’t have a tattoo or body rings. “I’m a guy that’s going out there and do whatever it takes. That’s what he did.”