Back when he was just a kid, Thad Young was enjoying an effective but low volume 3 point shot and a high level of efficiency on the offensive end. Then, he was asked not to shoot 3’s anymore. His shooting efficiency went up from there and that didn’t hurt his future one bit. I remember considering this a positive move. Then, this year, after the trade deadline culling, he was the #1 option on a team leading the league in pace. Unfortunately for Thad's productivity stats and his reputation, the Sixers decided to go "Willie Green", with the entire roster, Thad included. Some may confuse this with their intentional draft positioning opportunity enhancement (not tanking). But, it appeared to be in alignment more with what Brett Brown wants this team to do in the future. So, it was practice or training or conditioning. And, it broke our Thad.
Collectively, the Sixers shot a huge number of 3’s and shot them very poorly. I used basketball-reference.com’s season finder to make sure. Thinking i would have to toy with it a little to make the point, I plugged in team numbers of 1800 3PA and 33.3% shooting into the season finder. The Sixers shot 1847 3’s this season and made an awful 31.2%. The result…exactly one team shows up on the list. Your 19 win Sixers were in a class by themselves. Individually, Thad did what was asked of him and shot more 3’s than he should have and deeply contributed to the teams historical performance.
But, there is some hope on that same list of dull-shooting teams. The next team up the list shot a far better, but still terrible 33.4%. This was the notorious gunners of the 02-03 Celtics coached by Jim O’Brien and led by Antoine Walker who individually shot a staggering 582 3’s and hit only 32.3%. More relevant, we hope, is that Paul Pierce was on that same Celtics team and he shot a nearly inexplicable 30.2% from 3 that year. Inexplicable because he is a career 37.0% 3 shooter. The next year under Jim O’Brien got even worse as Pierce shot 29.9% on the way to a 22 win season. You all know what happened a few years later as the Celtics blew it up even with an aging Paul Pierce and after they missed out on Durant, they still made a trade that changed the landscape of the Eastern conference. This still drives me bonkers. Maybe there’s a lesson there. Nah. But, Paul Pierce returned to normal as the players around him improved and he’ll get measured for his HOF bust someday.
Thad Young is not just like Paul Pierce. Thad can’t handle volume and that is primarily because Thad can’t also create shots for teammates. But, Thad Young is a good player with past success and almost certainly future success that had an anomalous and terrible year in a new role/offense. Similar to Paul Pierce, there’s a chance that Thad isn’t destroyed by this experience and we should keep a positive attitude about the Sixers best player. Thad will still only be 26 next year and has already put up 4 productive seasons. His salary at ~$9 Mil is also very manageable considering the Sixers cap situation. Meanwhile, getting rid of productive players for younger unproductive players over and over is what puts teams on the mediocrity treadmill in the NBA. Even worse, the Sixers may have convinced the rest of the league this year that Thad isn’t productive. So, you are not getting more than 2 second rounders for him at this point. You can’t even use him as a sweetener to move up a few spots in the draft. Thad Young is more valuable to this Sixers team than to any other team in the league.
What we’re left with then is a solid performer with a few years left of improvement before he hits the typical regular season production peak and several years before he can’t contribute as a wily vet, which we hope that that team needs very soon. You know, for playoff games. Maybe Thad isn’t broken, but Brett Brown needs to take into account efficiency and putting a player in his best place to succeed. I’m also expecting the Sixers will have a few other volume scorers available to them after the draft to take the volume scoring pressure off of Thad and he will be all back together again.