19 Days: Welcome Back, Thaddeus Young's Three Point Shot

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

We (mostly) missed you.

Before I wrote here and appeared on the masthead, I wrote on this website about my love of Thaddeus Young and his shot selection. My point in that article (the TL;DR version*, if you will): I was okay with Thad ditching the three pointer, as most of his threes came at the expense of his elite finishing ability at the rim**. The trade-off was mostly worth it, and while shooting threes at the expense of long twos were fine, Thaddeus Young created more value overall by being stationed closer to the rim more often than he did when he parked behind the three point line as an undersized power forward.

His overall efficiency improved in the seasons when he stopped shooting threes on a consistent basis, and based off his awkward form the last few years longer shots were going to be bad ideas.

*Speaking of this, Tom Ziller's very insightful response to Kirk Goldsberry's also very insightful article is a must-read. Well, both are. You get the point.

**Wow, I gave Doug Collins a lot of credit in that one, huh? I guess he wasn't completely and entirely bad after all... /Levin cuts rope, piano falls on me, my lifeless arm dangles out from underneath the wreckage

However, he's back to shooting threes now, attempting 6 in two preseason games. While preseason is time for experimentation, I imagine that the front office's request that he work on his long jumper combined with the in-game attempts means that the three pointer may be back in his arsenal.

And despite my previous reservations, I'm actually very excited for it.

So, why the change of heart? Well, I don't suppose it's a change of heart as much as it is a change in the circumstances surrounding both the team and Thad himself. For one, while people around the team (including myself) have brought up the potential of Thad as a starting perimeter player, he seems firmly entrenched as the 4 next to Spencer Hawes's 5 to start the season and for the near future. He'll be playing a lot in the pick-and-roll and against larger players, where he has been successful throughout his career, and he should still be around the rim a ton as the only rim-runner on the court when the season starts.

Besides, it's not like we'll have Hawes close to the rim all that often. He's our best shooter!

(Man that last statement, gosh tanking is so weird.)

It's also a great thing that we have a coach who will run a modern offense. If he shoots threes, it'll mostly be at the expense of his long twos. That's terrific if it works out.

Circumstances could change once (if) Nerlens Noel debuts. Then, Thad could be more useful as someone who can space the floor alongside the raw rookie center. They both could use some space to operate, with spacing being a premium in the NBA since the beginning of its time, and Nerlens Noel isn't adding three point range to his arsenal at any point in the near future.

Adding three point reps, and maybe tweaking his shooting motion in the process, could help straighten out another weakness in Thad's game: his out-of-nowhere atrocious free throw shooting. His free throw percentage plummeted to under 58%, a drop of nearly 20 percentage points from 2011-12. Aside from that, he had a fantastic year.

And finally, it can help in a more underhanded way: if the experiment is unsuccessful, it makes him a less effective player. Like the Victor Oladipo point guard "experiment", it's one where most of the effects, good and bad, ultimately can help the team in one way or another. If it works, great, Thaddeus Young is a better player, and hopefully he retains his value either for a trade or for when the team is good in the more distant future. If not, Thaddeus Young is still very good at basketball-related things, he could demand a smaller contract, and he could inadvertently help the front office make sure the losses come in droves.

That's as much of a win-win situation that you're going to find in Philly this season. Hey-o!

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