It was a savvy move on the part of Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors to trade a disgruntled veteran in Goran Dragic for a more committed one in Thad Young. Adding someone with the experience of Young to mentor the young forwards on the Raptors squad made sense, given how Thad played ball last season.
Everything from his reliable post game, jump hook, and sling-shot jumper screams old-school veteran, but his value to the Raptors goes far beyond his play on the court. Every great team needs that battle-scared old-timer, especially if the key pieces on said team are in their early 20s.
Despite only being 34 years old, Young has played a whopping 15 years in the NBA. Having an adult in the locker room and a mature basketball player on the court is vital to any team that hopes to contend in the playoffs.
Without a consistent backup point guard, the Raptors were still able to piece together a playmaking presence off the bench due in no small part to the fifteen seasons of know-how under Young’s belt. While his impact on the game won’t appear in the box score, having a player who doesn’t make mistakes on the floor is felt in the win column.
Raptors 2022-23 season preview: Thad Young will be a leader.
Stats: 6.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 47% FG, 39% 3PT
Since the Raptors have doubled down on their identity of length and switchability, Young’s physical measurements might have him fade into the background on the roster, but it’s important to keep in mind what his play style brings to the table.
The Raptors bench can score from the inside and outside, but they have issues creating their own shot, much less creating for others. That’s where Young becomes so important. His passing will become the key to the Raptors bench offense, regardless of who ends up in the final rotation.
Young doesn’t need to have the ball to be effective, yet is capable of making something good happen with the shot clock winding down. This was what was so great about the 2019 title team. Every Raptor in that playoff rotation could play great defense, but was also capable of creating a shot if need be.
Young’s improved shooting will be quite the boon for this team as they try to sustain their success.
Young is going to be 35 years old, and there’s no telling when his age is going to show at a very inopportune time. Is there a chance that Young ends up eating into the playing time (and subsequent development) of Precious Achiuwa?
Young will be asked to be an engine for the bench unit and a versatile cog for the starters. He won’t put up the raw stats of a Chris Boucher or an Otto Porter, but the job he has to do is much more complicated.
There are plenty of NBA guys who can hit an open shot, but there are very few guys who can do the things Thad can while providing exemplary leadership for under $10 million.