Thursday, March 26, 2009

Who's Your Thadde?

Thanks for the headline Joltin' Joe

I'm not sure if you're aware of this or not, but Thaddeus young is officially becoming a stud in the NBA. Just a complete stud. Last night, for the fifth straight game, Thad scored at least 22 points, leading everyone with 29 points in the Sixers' 96-88 win. The most telling statistic was Thad's 14 trips to the free throw line, making 11 of them, both career highs. Those 14 foul shots exemplify the current tear Thaddeus is on — right now, the youngest Sixer is playing more aggressive than he ever has.

Last night, there wasn't a Timberwolves player that could stay with him. He was the best player on the floor from start to finish, and his emphatic dunk to close the game was a statement: My time has come.

Throwing out the first two games of March, where Thad scored just 11 points against the Hornets and 14 against Memphis, Young is averaging 23.3 points per game and 17.1 shot attempts a game this month.That's a young man with growing confidence and a growing game.

No longer is he deferring to his older teammates, giving way to Andre Iguodala. Sure, Iggy may be getting paid like the man, and Andre Miller may be the one running the show, but Thaddeus has suddenly emerged as the best player for the Sixers heading down the stretch.

In the past 10 games, Young has scored 20 or more eight times, including a career-high 29 against Toronto followed by another career-high against the Bulls in the final game at the Spectrum, where he scored 31. In the past five games, Thad has scored 23 against Phoenix, 23 vs. Golden State, 22 at Sacramento, 25 in Portland and then 29 last night, and in those games, he hasn't taken less than 15 shots in any of them.

Oh, and the Sixers went 3-2 in those games and are 8-4 in the month of March, with Thad bringing his game to new heights. Now, with three straight wins, the Sixers are 37-33, good for sixth in the East, and only a half game behind the Heat. And Thad's been the biggest reason.

Say what you want about the decision to fire Maurice Cheeks and replace him with Tony DiLeo, but the decision has paid off.

I mean, how many times did we hear Mo say the Sixers didn't run any plays for Young, he was just getting them on his own? A thousand? A million? Well, Tony DiLeo hasn't necessarily run plays for Thad, but he's clearly made a conscious effort to run the offense through Young at times, something Cheeks never did and never seemed interested in doing. That, if for no other reason, justifies Cheeks' dismissal as coach. If he was so blind that he couldn't see what Thad could become given some touches, then he didn't deserve to be manning the Sixers' sidelines.

Just look at the results. Under DiLeo, Thad has flourished, and now he's becoming the best player on the team. All he needed was a chance. And with Elton Brand out and Cheeks gone, Thad has gotten that chance. Now he's making the most of it.

Admittedly, I was one of the detractors when the Sixers drafted Young. I wanted Al Thornton from Florida State, not some freshman out of Georgia Tech that I barely even watched play. But boy was I wrong. Chalk one up for Billy King there. About time he got one right.

I've never been more happy to be wrong about a player. Now, without question, Thaddeus Young is my favorite 76er (well, him and Theo), and the way he's been playing, he's also the best 76er.

BallHype: hype it up!

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