Four-for-Four: Scorched Earth Edition

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After the ‘Great Purge’ of February 20th, Thaddeus Young was the lone remaining member of the 76ers team that just two seasons ago were in the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs. At just 25 years old, the former 12th overall pick will have to endure the remains of a season with a team that could conceivably be an underdog in every contest. As the lone remaining name from the trio of potential cast-offs on the 76ers roster, Young now finds himself in a rebuild plan that could take three years to yield any sort of substantial results. While Young is compensated as handsomely as any player remaining on the 76ers roster, it has to be tough to imagine the mindset of a player on a team hitting the reset button with a carnival-sized mallet.

Whether or not the organization really wanted to hang on to Young and were unable to get the value they wanted for the forward is moot. Fact of the matter is that Young is still on the roster and probably will be playing in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future. Despite having the taste of playoff basketball at a young age in his career, Young has yet to play on a team with legitimate title aspirations and one has to wonder how he will continue to respond to a somewhat helpless situation.

While Young certainly would have warranted a first round pick if the 76ers were able to unload him, they were unable to find a suitor. No matter how often the organization probably re-assured their veteran forward that he was a valuable asset to the future of the team, Young was not stupid and certainly caught wind of all the different rumors with his name attached to them. Despite the fact that the NBA is a business and a league of men, one has to figure Young was at least slightly miffed about his name being tossed around like it was.

As Young assumes the temporary role of primary scoring option and focal point of a team with no aspirations of winning, he will have to accept the fact that the franchise’s ideal situation down the road is for him to be a productive, veteran presence off the bench. One has to figure, given the sequence of transactions and positioning, that the 76ers hope to field a starting five of players with more talent than Thaddeus Young in two seasons, three at the maximum.

As mentioned earlier, Young is compensated quite well for his stature in the league. He is under control for next season at just around $9.5 million and has a player option the following season for the same amount. Young could possibly see that number jump slightly higher in his next contract, whether it is in Philadelphia or elsewhere, if he continues to trend upward as an all-around player.

Feb 12, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) goes to the basket against Philadelphia 76ers power forward Thaddeus Young (21) during the second half at EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz won 105-100. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

In my opinion, Young is the most positive presence in the 76ers locker room and has been since day one of this season. His effort on the court is tireless and the work on his game is evident, given the strides he has shown as a shooter and distributor on a team devoid of top-end talent. The next few years of Young’s career will be what defines his legacy as an NBA player. He is not good enough to be a marquee player on a title contender and, should he end up on a different team in the next few seasons, it is possible that it will be for a team without a successful plan of action in place. This does not mean that Young cannot still leave a significant mark on this league, team, and city before he hangs ’em up.

My ideal career arch for Thaddeus Young is, and always has been that of Nick Collison. Collison was a first round pick (also 12th overall) from a great Kansas team for the Seattle Supersonics in the 2003 Draft. He was an extremely well-rounded player who gave maximum effort, worked tirelessly on the fundamentals of his game, and steadily improved on a Seattle team with no aspirations of competing out of the Western Conference. Then, a lot of things started to change for Collison’s franchise. First, they drafted Kevin Durant 2nd overall in the 2007 Draft. Immediately, the organization had a face to focus all of their building efforts around. The following year, the organization moved to Oklahoma City and drafted Russell Westbrook toward the top of that year’s draft. By dumb luck, the Oklahoma City Thunder had gone from irrelevant franchise in the NBA to one of the most exciting young rosters in the league.

Collison was never going to be the go-to player like he was in college or even early in his NBA career. His value to the franchise was making sure that things for Durant and Westbrook were as conducive to success as possible. Collison could have pouted and pulled the veteran card to ask for a trade or allow his deal to run out. Instead, the veteran forward has re-invented his game and become invaluable to the Thunder franchise on the court and off. Even coming off the bench, Collison excels as a defender and works well within the framework of Oklahoma City’s half-court offense. He makes his free throws, isn’t afraid to shoot on that end of the court, and has become a fixture of one of the elite organizations in the NBA.

Young can be more valuable than Collison is for a title contender. He is more athletic, versatile, and younger at this stage of his career than Collison was at a similar point. The key for the elder statesman of the 76ers is buying in. The process might be arduous and there will certainly be more losing before things start to turn around for the 76ers as far as competing for a title. However, if Young takes the right approach and remains on board, it is possible that he could end up being a player that his teammates look back on and credit him with providing an invaluable presence within the roster.


Despite Sam Hinkie’s ruthless approach to the trade deadline, one cannot forget that this is still a matter of human beings being uprooted from intimate situations. The NBA locker room, like all sports, is a sacred place where bonds are forged unlike any other profession. For a young roster like the 76ers, the sort of upheaval in the clubhouse can be a humbling experience. Perhaps no individual captured the magnitude of the roster turnover than first-year Sixers, guard Tony Wroten.

The tweet was taken down but it is obvious that Wroten is shaken by the departure of his former fellow Seahawks fan in Hawes along with Turner. Not certain how the organization feels about Wroten in the long-term. Personally, I am a fan and think he could bring explosive scoring and athleticism off of the bench. His game is still a bit rough around the edges and he will need to be re-signed in the offseason if he is part of the team’s long-term plans. If nothing else, it’s nice to see a member of the team getting emotional after the departure of his mates.


Since we’ve covered most of the prospects that could possibly interest the 76ers at their first selection in the opening round of the 2014 NBA Draft, the focus will shift toward players that could be attractive options with the pick acquired from the Pelicans (New Orleans currently has the 11th worst record in the NBA).

Doug McDermott-Forward; Senior (Creighton)-6’8″, 223 lbs. 25.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.6 apg

Feb 19, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Creighton Bluejays forward Doug McDermott (3) reacts to a call during the first half against the Marquette Golden Eagles at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The buck starts and stops with McDermott when it comes to college-level scoring. The rangy forward has managed to continue a steady progression in his four years as a Blue Jay and now sits as the front-runner for this year’s National Player of the Year award. The son of Creighton’s head coach, despite not being the ideal athlete, is as polished a scorer as one could ask for at the college level and will most likely be one of the most polarizing players come draft time.

McDermott has proved he can score against every level in college hoops. His team has dominated a very good Villanova team twice this season, with the most recent beatdown seeing McDermott scoring 39 points while shooting almost 77%. His shooting stroke his textbook, he knows how to score out of the post, and he is big enough to get to the free throw line and supplement his versatile scoring ability with a healthy dose from the charity stripe.

The questions surrounding McDermott is whether he can translate his game to the NBA level. His game is geared toward offense and his lack of athleticism can be exposed on the defensive side of the ball. He generally does not try to create shots for himself and excels much more in catch-and-shoot scenarios compared to isolation plays and break downs.

As far as how McDermott would fit with the 76ers, there are several variables that could factor into the pick. If the team picked a player like Jabari Parker toward the top of the draft, a player whose primary value is scoring, it is tough to imagine the 76ers would bring in someone like McDermott. However, if Philadelphia took one of the two Kansas players (Wiggins or Embiid), neither of which possessing an offensive game nearly as polished as Parker’s, the front office might be inclined to tab a scorer with at least one of their picks in the draft. Wiggins may end up being a dominant scorer, but his success is mostly dictated upon athleticism at this young point of his career.

Ultimately, I envision the 76ers will need a player like this on their roster. McDermott can create matchup problems and can stretch the floor. Given the current roster, the 76ers have no one capable of doing so and unless that changes, their rebuild will have a permanent glass ceiling over it. I would not have an issue with the 76ers taking McDermott toward the end of the lottery. He has the potential to be a solid scorer and if the team around him is built up enough, they can probably mask most of his deficiencies. Part of me is greedy as far as the 76ers pursuit of a player to fill this role. I would much prefer the 76ers wait to get into the Kevin Love sweepstakes (next offseason) when he decides to become a free agent and see if they can’t put forth an attractive enough product to bring in one of the biggest mismatches in the NBA to round out what I imagine will be a roster that is just about ready to start contending in the Eastern Conference.