By Cory Bernstein
Why we want him: There’s a good chance that Thaddeus Young will be the highest paid player in this free agent class, and for good reason.
At only 22, Young is only going to get better and can be signed to a long-term deal with no fear of regression. 82games.com has a “Simple Rating”, measuring their overall effectiveness on offense and defense. Young came in at an impressive 3.3, ahead of guys like Danny Granger, Marc Gasol, Paul Millsap, and Luis Scola. He is a power forward who can play the small forward if needed, and this versatility is something the Nets sorely needed this year. The Georgia Tech product scored nearly 13 points per game in only 26 minutes, and it is confusing why Doug Collins didn’t play him more this year.
He is an average defender at the three and four positions, with a defensive rating of 100.88 (league average is 100). His greatest strength offensively is that he can drive to the hoop and dunk like few can in the NBA. Power forwards have problems guarding him because he is faster and more athletic than them. He uses this athleticism to his advantage, being able to make some incredible plays above the rim. He had a 4.3 GPA in high school and uses this intelligence to be a “student of the game”, making few dumb mistakes like turnovers. When going to Brooklyn, it would be nice to have “good guys”, and it seems that Young is just that. Oh, and that 18.4 PER would help The Nets a little bit.
Why we don’t: Hmm, a stretch 4 who is not a great shooter and will command too much money on the open market? Why does this seem familiar? Young is certainly better than Travis Outlaw ever was or will be, but the similarities to Outlaw do go far. Like Outlaw, Young is a stretch 4 who would be most likely forced to play small forward with The Nets. Although he’s very athletic, he certainly is not fast enough to defend the small forward position for large amounts of time. Young’s biggest strength on the court, which his ability to finish at the rim, is harmed by playing small forward. Many of his great finishes are by using his speed to beat power forwards off the dribble, but small forwards are generally quicker and will be able to stop him from making these plays.
If Young were to be signed to play the 4, he would fit horribly with Brook Lopez. Like with Glen Davis, the Nets need a rebounder who can play exceptional defense at the power forward position, like Kris Humphries. Young averaged 5.3 rebounds last year, which was actually a career high. Although many saw it to be puzzling, Doug Collins played Young less than ever had since his rookie year in 2007, averaging 26 minutes a game in comparison to over 32 from the previous two years. Collins led the Sixers to play way over their talent level this season, and Elton Brand (yes, that Elton Brand), was starting over him this season. He also is a restricted free agent, meaning the Nets may have to break the bank for him, as Philly can match any contract offer.
Final Verdict: Thaddeus Young is a solid role player, but will be paid much more handsomely than that for his services. This idea of untapped potential will woo some team signing him into a big deal this summer a la Tyrus Thomas in 2010. At 22 years old and with four years under his belt in the league, he has to put up some stats. Yes, he’s young, but there is no stat that can justify him being paid over too handsomely this summer. He is a forward with no true position, too small to play power forward and too big to play the small forward spot. Thaddeus is a poor shooter, and this severely hurts his value on any team. Let’s hope the Nets pass on Thaddeus Young and let some other team cripple their cap like New Jersey did with Outlaw last summer.
Get more New Jersey Nets news, recaps and analysis over Brooklyn-Bound.com