The Case For — Thaddeus Young

Thaddeus YoungWhen I did my early fantasy rankings — the Red Rock 150 — I had Thaddeus Young sitting right at number 31. When I compiledĀ those rankings, I actually had no idea that Young had finished ranked exactly 31st in each of the last two seasons. Now that’s consistency.

But it seems I’m always on an island when it comes to the former Georgia Tech product. Last season, Young had an ADP of 58 on ESPN, so if you drafted him, you got a bargain. Now, after two straight finishes at number 31, I failing to find his name listed anywhere near the top 30. He is generally listed around 45-50, and I think that leaves us with scope to get some real value. First of all, here are Young’s stats for last season.

2013-14 MIN PTS 3PM REB AST STL BLK FGA FG% FTA FT% TO Rank
Thaddeus Young 34 17.9 1.1 6.0 2.3 2.1 0.5 16.2 45.4 2.9 71.2 2.1 31

Young set career highs in points, three-pointers, assists and steals and even had a career worst field goal percentage, which seems an anomaly, given his previous seasons’ production. For a guy who is eligible at power forward, his output in the steals category bears mentioning. Young finished third in the league in steals per game, behind only Chris Paul and Ricky Rubio and along with Paul Millsap, was the only power forward in the top 30 in that category. That is elite, out of position production and out of position production is one of the keys to winning fantasy leagues.

If you were punting assists last season, Young became like an idol that your team should worship. Only Young, Paul and Rubio got over two steals a game last season, so if you owned him, it was like getting point guard production from the power forward position. The 2.1 steals were a career high, but it’s not like he was a slouch during the rest of his career. He has averaged over a steal a game every season in his career and in 2012-13, averaged 1.8 per contest.

What about this season? Most of my analysis comes from a place where Young remains on the Sixers, but even if he is traded to the Timberwolves, which has been rumoured, as a replacement for Kevin Love, he will still be able to put up big time numbers, as the Wolves play at a high pace as well and he’d be the undisputed started at the four. For now though, let’s assume he remains on the Sixers for the bulk of the season.

The Sixers were horrible last season. There is no way around that fact. Young was rumoured to be dealt a multitude of times last season but it never eventuated, with only Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes leaving town. Young is back in the City of Brotherly Love and, let’s face it, they’re not much better. Let’s check out the projected Sixers’ rotation.

PG – Michael Carter-Williams/Tony Wroten

SG – Anyone’s guess/Jordan McRae/K.J. McDaniels
SF – Hollis Thompson/K.J. McDaniels
PF – Thaddeus Young/Jerami Grant
C – Nerlens Noel/Henry Sims

From how the Sixers’ looked at the beginning of last season, this lineup is arguably worse. It’s marginally better than the end of last season with the addition of Noel, but with his skinny frame, he is going to get pushed around on the block a bit. That fact, makes me think Young will get a slight increase in his rebound numbers and also play a little closer to the basket, which should help his field goal percentage. I’m aware that Hawes was hardly a low-block warrior, but he is a lot more solid and stronger than Noel and had an impact down there that I don’t think Noel will be able to have this season. Throw in the fact that Noel will probably play less than 30 minutes a game, especially initially, and Young will get a lot of looks closer to the basket.

Here’s how I project Young’s stats to look this coming season. I base these projections on a number of factors. I use the per-100 possession numbers on Basketball-Reference.com, adjust for projected playing time this season as well as any little tweaks I think may happen, such asĀ a slight increase in field goal percentage and rebounding as mentioned above.

2014-15 MIN PTS 3PM REB AST STL BLK FGA FG% FTA FT% TO
Thaddeus Young 35 17.0 1.2 6.8 2.1 2.1 0.6 15.6 48.2 3.0 70.5 2.1

As you can see, his numbers come out pretty much on par with last year, so shouldn’t he finish around number 30 this season? I’m going to be targeting Young in drafts for what feels like the fourth straight year and I’d suggest you do the same.

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