Bulked-up Thaddeus Young may see time at small forward for 76ers

Posted: October 05, 2012

After an active offseason, the 76ers have just five players who saw significant time last season on this year's roster. This is clearly a different team. But one of the biggest changes occurred with one of those five returning players - Thaddeus Young.

Last season, the 6-foot-8 Young wore down by the end of the season. Playing against stronger power forwards, Young said he weighed 212 pounds by the season's end. He played in 63 of 66 games and averaged 12.8 points while shooting 50.7 percent from the field, becoming one of the NBA's top reserves.

In the playoffs, Young's production dipped. He averaged 7.7 points and shot 42.9 percent from the field. While Young averaged 27.9 minutes per game in the regular season, he played 21.3 minutes per game in the Sixers' 13 postseason games.

Young reported to training camp Tuesday at St. Joseph's University at a sculpted 235 pounds. In addition to playing power forward, Young will also get a look at small forward, coach Doug Collins said.

"He hasn't lost any speed and quickness, and his endurance should be better," Collins said.

Young said he always tries to come to camp a little heavier.

"But this offseason it has been more intense," Young said.

Collins saw a decline last season after Young developed an upper-respiratory infection that caused him to miss a March 7 game against the Boston Celtics.

The illness "knocked him out, and I don't know if he ever got his strength back," Collins said.

The only other games Young missed were the final two of the regular season, when the Sixers rested a number of key players.

Young's outside shooting will be a determining factor in whether he will see extended minutes at small forward. Last season, he attempted just four three-point shots after attempting 22 the previous year.

"I think outside shooting is the best part of my game that I extended," he said. "During our summer pickup games I was shooting the ball really well, and it is a matter of sticking with it."

Young, who signed a five-year, $43 million contract before last season, is entering his sixth year with the Sixers. He is just 24, having played one college season at Georgia Tech, but is the senior member of the 76ers.

Of the other returning players from last year, Jrue Holiday is entering his fourth season as a Sixer, while Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes are in their third seasons with the team. Lavoy Allen is in his second.

"When [Andre Iguodala] got traded, I was like, 'Man, I am the last one here since my rookie year,' " Young said. "It shows they [aren't] playing around."

Neither is Young. He fully has bought into all the optimism surrounding the Sixers, who were 35-31 and advanced to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals before losing to the Boston Celtics last season.

"It is harder than it sounds, but I think we can be a 50-win ball club," Young said. "It is all about going out and going about it the right way."

Notes. After Wednesday night's workout, assistant coach Brian James talked about giving Holiday more responsibility at the point. "If he is one of the elite point guards not only on our team but in the NBA, he has to have the ball in his hands more," James said. . . . James cited the leadership of newcomer Jason Richardson, entering his 12th NBA season. The Sixers scrimmaged with game officials, and after the first day of practice Richardson told his teammates they were complaining too much to the referees.

Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @sjnard.


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