Thad Young remains key to Raptors winning without Pascal Siakam

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 12: Thaddeus Young #21 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 12: Thaddeus Young #21 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The way the Toronto Raptors used Thad Young early in the season was nothing short of baffling. The grizzled veteran decided to return to Canada on a multi-year contract, but Nick Nurse stuck him at the end of the bench before injuries had to force his hand.

Young may not have the scoring punch that he did in his younger days, but Toronto was doing themselves a disservice by letting him waste away on the bench. Bringing him back into the lineup by making him the starting center with MVP candidate Pascal Siakam out has reinvigorated him.

Young has averaged 11.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game over the last three games, two of which were Raptors wins. With just under four offensive rebounds per contest and two games with a plus-minus greater than +20 in the last five games, Thad has been on fire.

Young’s play has been so impressive that there is no way that the Raptors can sit him back down when the big names come back. This bench needed someone with this level of veteran moxie and playmaking, and Young has shown that he can fill that role while playing a center spot that very few coaches would even think about using him in.

The Toronto Raptors must keep using Thad Young.

Most of Young’s points come on putbacks and easier attempts at the rim, but that’s all Toronto needs him to do right now. The other skills he provides are in such short supply on this roster that it would be an absolute shame for Thad to collect dust on the bench.

Still a tremendous rebounder at his age and a fantastic passer that is lightyears better than his box score numbers would indicate, Young’s role is that of a connecter who can clean up mistakes in the paint. He played that role like Laurence Olivier last year, so one wonders why Nurse hesitated to unleash him in 2022.

It’s easy to forget that the Raptors are such a young team, and this issue has been exacerbated by the fact that so many of their veterans have been in less-than-perfect health. Keeping Young in the lineup has clearly stabilized a volatile group, and Nurse should be well aware of that fact.

Thad Young might seem like an awkward fit in the rotation due to the excess of power forwards with similar styles of play that Toronto had, but he’s been too effective in his role to simply move back to the bench. If these games have thought Toronto anything, it’s given them a clearer picture of what their healthy rotation should look like.

3 Raptors who exceeded expectations. dark. Next