Nick Nurse shows Thad Young is mentoring young Raptors core

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 20: Thaddeus Young #21 of the Toronto Raptors reacts against the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 20: Thaddeus Young #21 of the Toronto Raptors reacts against the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors needed to offload Goran Dragic and improve a bench that ranked as one of the worst in the entire league. Toronto killed two birds with one stone by flipping the Slovenian veteran to the San Antonio Spurs along with a first-round pick in exchange for Thad Young.

While Young was brought to Toronto to become an impact bench scorer, he’s since taken on the on-court role of a veteran glue guy. Young is rebounding, forcing turnovers, and helping the Raptors close out wins despite not getting a high volume of shots.

Not only do the Raptors have extremely talented young players like Scottie Barnes and Precious Achiuwa floating around this roster, but many of their long-term standouts are cut from the same switchable forward cloth as Young. Nick Nurse thinks having him around is a major positive.

Nurse was quoted as saying that Young has “certainly brought a veteran presence” to this roster even if he doesn’t have the gaudiest scoring numbers in the world. That could be invaluable as a team without a second player older than 30 starts their postseason journey.

“I think as soon as Thad figured out where he was supposed to go with us, it helped him,” Nurse said. “You obviously have seen him run really hard to the corners and get some transition threes and some kick-out threes and I think you probably noticed Precious following a bit in those footsteps too.”

Thad Young is making an impact on the Toronto Raptors.

While Young, who was picked 12th overall in the 2007 NBA Draft out of Georgia Tech, wasn’t as hyped a high school player as Barnes, Scottie should pay very close attention when Young shares stories of what it takes to make it in this league.

Considering that Barnes has revitalized his Rookie of the Year charge and set a new career-best mark in front of LeBron James, Young’s sagely advice seems to be working well.

“It’s always just helping him and making sure that he’s getting better as an individual player,” Young said. “He’s developing his mind as well.”

Thad Young is helping the Toronto Raptors develop Precious Achiuwa.

Since the trade went down, Achiuwa is averaging 11.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. The most shocking development is the confidence that Achiuwa is playing with. Rather than committing a turnover while trying to rush things, Precious is setting up his teammates with nice passes and draining 3-pointers with regularity.

“Precious is a really good one,” Young said. “He is very athletic and he understands how to go out and use that presence. Sometimes, we have to think about it in a different way and with a different mindset and that’s what I’m trying to get him to do as well.”

Part of the reason Young was acquired was to be the veteran mentor that Dragic was not. Though he is an impending free agent, Toronto will need to consider bringing him back. It’s hard to quantify how much Young’s advice is helping, but everyone around the Raptors seems to confirm that he’s worth keeping around.

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