Thaddeus Young, 76ers starting small forward?

Thaddeus hasn’t had a chance to exclusively play small forward. 

I recently talked to Anthony Gargano from 94WIP. While we were talking about the Sixers I made the point that Thaddeus Young might be a good fit as the starting small forward, at least for the beginning of next season. I reminded Gargano that around this time last year Thaddeus made it clear he wanted to start at the three.

By Thaddeus playing small forward, more minutes would open up for the other young power forwards on the roster. More minutes for those big men could be a great way to get a better look at what players fit into the organization’s future plans. It would also give those players time to establish their roles on the roster. We already know that Thaddeus brings energy and speed when playing at the four. The other young power forwards on the team are about to or are still in the process of establishing themselves in the league. Considering next season is going to be a wash why not see how Thaddeus fares as the team’s starting small forward.

Hopefully next season goes horribly wrong for the Sixers. Then they would be in a position to accumulate enough ping pong balls to draft a franchise changing player like Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. In the meantime if you look at next season from that perspective, what’s the worst that could happen in regards to Thaddeus starting at the three?

Yes, Young lacks the ideal speed required of a small forward. His ball handling skills is another area of concern. But in all sincerity, Thad’s ball handling might not be a big issue because it seems highly plausible that Michael Carter-Williams will be running the show next season and Evan Turner is the type of player that seems to be more productive with the ball in his hands. That could make it a perfect balance with Thad in the mix at the three. The biggest problem with the Carter-Williams, Turner back court is that they seem to do everything well except for shot the ball.

I also understand E.T. could be gone soon, but as of right now he’s on the roster and should start. Without Turner starting he will have little to no value as a trade commodity. If Evan were traded before the season starts there wouldn’t be much offered for him and management wouldn’t get to see if he has made any improvements in his game and has increased his trade value. Though more of a long shot as his career progresses, there is always that chance he has a break out year similar to his final season at Ohio State.

Finally, the last problem with Thaddeus starting at small forward is that he is a back to the basket type of player. Despite being undersized, he seems to be better suited as a power forward. Regardless there are some good reasons to give him a look at small forward. Thad might have looked slightly over matched against Melo on defense but he never shied away from the challenge of guarding one of the best scorers in the league.

On the other hand I keep having nightmares when I think about Turner, specifically one play. The Sixers are playing the Heat and Evan is guarding LeBron James. E.T. decides to stand there with his dear caught in the headlights look that he seems to have mastered better than his jump shot. In the meantime, Turner is clueless to the fact that LeBron has moved toward the rim for an uncontested dunk. Evan wanted no parts of James.

I don’t mind if he does the best he can and simply gets beat, but to have no awareness of your player on defense is a different story. Thad will never lack the motivation or ever have that type of mental laps. He has the work ethic, determination and the desire to succeed. Those qualities are enough to make it possible for him to be successful at small forward if given the opportunity. Consistent playing time at the three would also give Thad a chance to get comfortable and accustomed to playing small forward in the NBA. Inevitably that could lead to better results.

Meanwhile the Sixers are collecting power forwards like a squirrel collects nuts. We have an abundance of fours and one less three with Dorell Wright’s departure. Lavoy Allen, Arnett Moultrie, and Royce White specifically play power forward. Arsalan Kazemi is listed as a four, which is what he played at Oregon. He also has played the three for the Iran National Basketball Team. Spencer Hawes is technically a center, but with his soft perimeter game and decent passing skills he could just as easily be considered a stretch four. In Gargano’s eyes he sees Nerlens Noel as a power forward too. At this point Nerlens Noel is not capable of handling the rigors of playing the five against the other bigger centers in the league and will have to bulk up. It would be nice to see him put on some weight and become a legit five.

Moultrie showed flashes of potential late last season and reports are that he will be getting more playing time in the coming season so that management can determine if Arnett will be a part of the rebuilding process or an expendable player available to be traded. If Royce White is still here once the season starts, some fans might be hoping he taps into that middle lottery pick potential and finds a way to conquer his fear of flying. If he doesn’t, his phobia will inevitably cost him millions of dollars and an NBA career. Kazemi is lauded for his rebounding but it will be interesting to see if his game translates in the NBA despite his lack of size. It wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up playing overseas though. Lastly, which Lavoy Allen are we going to see? Rookie season Lavoy who held his own against KG in the playoffs or the regressed version that frankly just didn’t have it last year?

That’s a logjam at the power forward position and at no point did I mention Thaddeus Young when discussing all these power forwards. I could be over analyzing our roster prematurely. Thaddeus or one of the other power forwards I discussed could be gone in the near future. One thing can not be denied, Young brings a blue-collar effort that the city of Philadelphia appreciates and he does it on a regular basis. It would be nice to see him lead a team that hopefully a few years down the line will be in contention for a championship, no matter what position Thaddeus plays.



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