Only the Good Play Young
Ask any Sixers fan: Thaddeus Young has been pretty great to watch this season. After coming off the bench in all but one of his games last season, Young has moved into the starting lineup full-time. While some of his box score numbers are down, namely his points per game, Young has been efficient while confounding opponents with his sneaky left-handed moves.
Young is coming off one of his best games of the season against Toronto. He keyed the Sixers’ second half comeback along with Jrue Holiday, scoring 14 fourth quarter points in the 108-101 overtime win. His effective field goal percentage was an outstanding 68.4 percent, and he finished with a 20.4 percent overall rebounding rate, good for 27 points and 14 rebounds.
Thad has been dominant in the paint all season. Remarkably, he is taking 55.6 percent of his shots in the restricted area, per NBA.com’s advanced stats database. Even better, he’s making 63 percent of those shots, the main reason behind his 52.6 percent effective field goal percentage. Young hasn’t been as effective from other parts of the floor, but is still knocking down 39.4 percent of all of his other field goal attempts.
Along with the rest of the team, Young has an uneasy relationship with the free throw line. He’s getting there just 2.7 times per game, a startlingly low number for a guy that takes so many shots around the hoop. Worse still, his free throw percentage has taken a precipitous drop this season. A career 70.8 percent shooter from the line, Young is making just 57.8 percent of his free throws this season.
The Spurs, anchored by Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter on the back line, will present some problems for Young in the paint. No matter who Young is guarded by (or has to guard), he’ll be at a serious size disadvantage. Both Duncan and Splitter are 7-footers, and Young is listed generously at 6’8”.
No surprise here: San Antonio also plays some of the toughest interior defense in the league. The Spurs are third in the league in field goal percentage allowed at the rim, according to hoopdata.com, with opponents hitting 60.4 percent of their shots there. Duncan also blocks 6.7 percent of two-point shots while he’s on the floor, remarkable given that he rarely leaves his feet on defense.