PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Thaddeus Young is playing the best basketball of his career, at a time that it might be the toughest for him to do so.
Young, who is averaging over 25 points per game over his last eight games, and was named the Eastern Conference Player of The Week on Monday, has looked like a new man over the last couple of weeks. So it’s fair to ask what inspired Young, always a good player but never a prolific scorer, to play this way.
Coincidentally, the stretch of good play from Young came immediately after rumors surfaced that Young had requested a trade. The report, which hit on December 19th from Jake Fischer of Liberty Ballers, said that Young asked the Sixers to trade him to a contending team. Over Young’s next four games, he scored 25 points, 30 points, 30 points, and 25 points. The previous four, he scored 14 points, 15 points, 18 points and 16 points.
Could the trade request report, which Young denied, have inspired him to turn it up a notch? His coach thinks it may have had an affect.
“I think that [the report] didn’t hurt. How far I want to give it credit I’m not sure, but I feel like when you really know Thaddeus [Young]—because Thaddeus at the end of the day is prideful, good person. He really cares to do the right thing. He’s been through so many different coaches, asked to do so many different in regards to a role. He’s been with the Philadelphia 76ers since he came into the league, so there is a pride end of it where he views himself as some level of stability given the rebuild that we’re going through,” Sixers coach Brett Brown told Angelo Cataldi and the 94WIP Morning Show on Tuesday. “I feel like he took a hit, he took it to heart, he wanted to prove that his heart is still in the right place and that his effort is moving forward, and then all the sudden you see a skill package that collides with that pride and he’s produced just some massive games. He’s playing at an all-star type level. I think that the speculation surrounding Thaddeus may have ignited this type of performance.”
Young is under contract for this season and next, and then can opt out and become a free agent. The question for the Sixers becomes whether Young is worth more on the roster, or in a trade for cap relief, younger players, or draft picks (or all three).
Though Young denied the report, it’s fair to imagine that after five coaches in seven years, and proving his worth over and over again, he may want to be on a team that isn’t going through a full rebuild, as the Sixers are.
“I believe he wants to stay. We talk very freely with all the players about the stage that the program is at. We’re trying to rebuild something that has a real chance to produce a championship at some stage in this city. Now, that’s a hell of a sentence that I just said,” Brown said. “It takes a lot of luck, it takes time. He’s been here for awhile. All I know is when I see him in the locker room and with his efforts on the court, everything suggests he feels like this is his team. He’s been around here a long time. I feel like he wants to help this whole process exist.”
The process, while a struggle many times this year, has had its share of positive moments, including a three-game winning streak to start the season, and a four-game winning streak on the team’s West Coast trip.