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Young Grows Up in Bynum’s Extended Absence
Posted By Joel Brigham On December 6, 2012 @ 12:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
In just about every way possible, Philadelphia 76ers forward Thaddeus Young is having a career-year. He’s rebounding over two boards per game higher than his previous best-season average, and he’s also posting career-highs in blocks, steals and minutes per game.
Young is the longest-tenured player on the Sixers, making him the closest thing Philadelphia has to a player who can be considered both an experienced veteran and a franchise cornerstone.
Jason Richardson and Kwame Brown are experienced, sure, but Young’s leadership carries more weight in that his teammates know he’s going to be around for many more years. Along with Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, the Sixers are really starting to look like a promising young team with a nucleus to keep an eye on for at least the next half decade.
“We are the core, the nucleus and they want us to start being the faces of the squad and taking over and building into that leadership role,” Young said. “I’ve been around for going on six years now, so it has definitely been a great thing to have those guys around and be able to grow into this new leadership role with two guys that have been there and walked through those down times with me a little bit.”
But even with five-plus years of experience, Young is still just 24 years old, which means despite his extended stay in the league, he still has plenty of room to grow.
“People are still asking me if I’m just 24, and I’m like, ‘Yeah I’m just 24,’ and they’re like, ‘It seems like you been in the league forever!’” Young said. “It comes with starting at an early age, but I definitely love being the guy who is like the Last of the Mohicans. It shows that the team and the organization has a lot of confidence in me, and they feel that I’m one of the guys they can move forward with through the future.”
If he continues to rebound the way he has, Young’s future will probably be one in which he transforms into one of those versatile and athletic fours that is impossible to guard. This year, he’s proven that he can bang with some of the big boys, and his big-time rebounding numbers (7.4 rebounds per game) have shown that.
“If they’re going to start me, I have to rebound the basketball,” Young said. “If we don’t get any rebounds, it’s going to be tough for us to win basketball games. And it’s not just me, it’s a team effort. Everybody is boxing their guys out and whoever gets the rebounds, we are off to the races. I think that’s the biggest part—who wants to rebound the ball so we can get in transition and play?”
So far, that guy has been Young, though he still jokes that he’d rather play the three.
“The guys are much smaller,” Young said with a smile, adding, “But at the end of the day it’s all about what the team needs. It’s always a tough matchup, but the focus is on matchup situations. [Playing power forward] is working out fine.”
Whatever he plays, Young has helped Sixers fans forget about Andrew Bynum, who was supposed to take Philadelphia to the next level this season. Between the play of Young, Holiday, and Turner—all of whom have broken out in a very serious way this season—Sixers fans have been given hope that whatever happens with their oft-injured center, there’s a promising future in the City of Brotherly Love.
And Thaddeus Young is going to be a major part of it.
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