With the playoffs very much in doubt for the Brooklyn Nets this season, the focus will soon shift to how the team will be built moving forward. After being acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett earlier this season, Thaddeus Young has earned a spot on the team moving forward.
The Brooklyn Nets are 8-9 since shipping future hall-of-famer Kevin Garnett to the Minnesota Timberwolves for forward Thaddeus Young. While 8-9 may not sound flashy, it’s actually a better winning percentage than the Nets have enjoyed for the season as a whole. And while this moderate success isn’t only due to Young’s arrival, he’s proved himself as a valuable asset to the team.
Playing 28 minutes a night over 17 games, the most recent nine games being starts, Young is averaging 13.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Young is a pretty consistent force on the court, something the Net desperately need as some players can go cold on any given night.
Young is shooting the ball extremely efficiently so far in his time in Brooklyn, compiling a solid 50% shooting from the field and an incredible 52% from three-point range. Young is a threat on the court that the defense always has to respect. Whether in the paint or behind the three-point line, Young has the option to score at a consistent rate from all over the court.
The Nets actually don’t control Young’s fate next season, as he holds a $9.9 million player option. This price is a little steep, but one Young will most likely accept as the price tag may exceed his value on the open market.
Regardless, the Nets should hope that Young exercises his player option or signs a long-term deal to stay in Brooklyn, spreading out more money over more years.
In a summer of uncertainty, the Nets could unload any number of key players, including Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, or Brook Lopez. This is why retaining Young will be so important to the team.
Listed at 6’8″ and 221 pounds, Young’s natural position is small forward. At this position he provides some solid offensive versatility as well as some defensive ability. Young has averaged 1.4 steals and 0.4 blocks per games with the Nets, both numbers that have been higher in recent years and could easily improve in Brooklyn.
Young is also comfortable sliding down to the power forward position as a stretch-four. Young has the size and athleticism to defend average NBA power forwards, and can stretch and space the floor with his recently deadly three-point shooting.
Basically, Young is a versatile player capable of playing both the small and power forward positions. With the future roster very much in doubt, it’s comforting to have a player on the roster capable of playing multiple positions. The Nets could go small in the future and keep Young as their permanent power forward. Or, they could keep Lopez and Mason Plumlee, add another big man, and keep Young at his natural small forward position.
Roster flexibility is an asset that coach Lionel Hollins has used often this season. Hollins is not afraid to tweak the starting lineup on any given night, starting two point guards, throwing in rookies, and starting Joe Johnson at power forward.
The Nets roster next season could be completely overhauled, with the status of multiple stars up in the air. If the Nets want to become more competitive in the future, they should start by keeping Thaddeus Young on the team moving forward.