After determining a couple days ago that starting PG Michael Carter-Williams should stay with the team next year, I move onto Thad Young, the team’s starting PF last year and arguably their best and most productive player. Young is one of the few veterans on the team, playing since he was drafted in the 1st round by the Sixers in 2007. He may be the longest-tenured player still on the team of 6 years, but he’s still at a young age of 25. The Sixers are trying to get as young as possible, but is Young considered young enough? (No pun intended throughout that sentence).
Young finished the season as the go-to guy on offense, averaging a career high 17.9 PPG. His shooting percentage was the lowest of his career at .454, but that was a product of him needing to take so many more shots than usual. Young averaged a career high 1.1 3-pointers per game. He also contributed across the stat sheet with 6.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, and 2.1 SPG. Sounds like a great year, right?
Of course it is. Yet, just like Michael Carter-Williams, there are trade rumors for Young as well. In fact, there have been rumors of trading Young since the beginning of the season along with Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes. Young even asked to be traded back in January (I don’t blame him). It was believed that at least one of those three guys would be traded by the end of the season, and Young was the only one left in a Sixers jersey. In fact, he was one of the few guys that had multiple seasons of real NBA experience under his belt left on the team. If the Sixers are interested in winning games at some point, they need to have veteran presence. What better player to have than Young?
It’s one thing to bring in a veteran and call him the veteran leader, but it’s another thing to have your veteran leader a guy who’s actually played for the team for a while. It doesn’t always necessarily have to be a starter, but in this case, there’s no one else that could even call himself a veteran of the Sixers that’s still on the roster. I know that Young is in the prime of his career and would much rather be on a competitive team that has a chance at making a run in the playoffs, but his veteran leadership is needed on this team.
The one problem with him is that he’s an undersized power forward. At only 6’8″ it’s hard to match up against some of the other power forwards in the Eastern Conference (and the league overall), but his athleticism and ability to shoot from wherever give him an advantage. He played some SF earlier in his career, but at this point, he probably wouldn’t switch back even if he was traded to another team. He’s proven that he can contribute and play at a high level despite his size, so why switch him back? He’s also a bit on the tall side for a SF…his in between height makes it a challenge.
One reason why the Sixers were originally considering trading him was because of his high cap hit, which will raise again next year to $9.16 million. It will likely be the highest player salary on the team, assuming he stays and the Sixers don’t sign a big name in free agency. Of course, this seems like a high amount, but it’s pretty fair for what he’s done and his talent level. Plus, the Sixers have to pay somebody to make sure they don’t sink below the minimum team salary, and getting rid of Young would likely require picking up another expensive player in a trade, similar to what they did with Danny Granger. Unless they got an extra pick like in that deal to compensate them for taking a bad contract, it would just be a waste.
The bottom line is this: the Sixers need to keep a guy like Young around if they want to have a chance at building a full team. It’s one thing to have a great group of young guys, but veterans are needed too. It’s not like Young is old (alright, that pun was intended). He’s only 25 years old and playing great. While I still wouldn’t be surprised to see them deal Young at some point before next season ends, I probably won’t be a fan of it.
Verdict: keep as starting PF