Raptors loss vs. Hawks shows Thad Young must be the bench leader

Toronto Raptors veteran Thad Young has been on quite the journey after signing a multi-year contract with the club in the offseason. After one or two substandard performances early in the season, Young was excommunicated from the rotation until injuries forced him back into the fold.

Young has started the last few games at center, including a matchup against gargantuan Swiss big Clint Capela and his Atlanta Hawks. With Christian Koloko going through rookie growing pains and Precious Achiuwa on the mend due to an injury, Young was the only option that made sense.

Young was unable to help the Raptors pull off a win in their overtime defeat at the hands of Atlanta, but it certainly was not for a lack of trying on his part. Young finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and four steals in a throwback performance.

While Nurse will have to make some rotation changes in light of how the team has performed in the last few weeks, one move that absolutely needs to be made is Young staying in the lineup. He just does too many things too well to relegate him to quick six-minute cameos at random spots in the game.

Thad Young was terrific as the center for the Toronto Raptors.

Young’s ability to pile up offensive rebounds is one of the reasons that Masai Ujiri leaped at the chance to trade for him, but he’s recently taken his scoring to another level. Young finished the first half having made 22 of his last 29 shots inside the arc, averaging 11.0 points per game in his last three appearances.

His defensive prowess is highlighted by the fact that he keeps piling up steals at a very impressive rate, but his ability to defend off-ball and always get himself in the right spot has an impact on winning games despite not showing up in the box score. Atlanta has youth and height, but Young still feasted on both ends.

It’s easy to forget how young and inexperienced this Raptors team is despite the fact that several championship winners litter the depth chart. On a roster that is currently in severe flux due to all of the moving parts, having someone like Young ready to clean up the mess in the frontcourt is essential.

Whatever the Raptors were doing with Young before the Siakam injury was baffling, to say the least. These last few weeks have made it crystal clear that the only way to get the most out of this current crop of players is to let Young be the glue guy and work his veteran magic.