Phoenix Suns: Why Trading for Thaddeus Young Makes Sense

Phoenix Suns, Thaddeus Young. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Thaddeus Young. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

The Phoenix Suns enjoyed a solid start to their 2021-22 campaign, setting themselves up well with a solid free agency haul. It included superstar point guard and hero from last year’s run Chris Paul, as well as Cameron Payne and JaVale McGee.

But still, work remains undone for the Suns. If they want to exceed past just reaching the NBA Finals next year, they need to make at least one more move—one that involves a Western Conference rival.

Last week, the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls agreed to a deal that sent DeMar DeRozan to the Chicago Bulls for Thaddeus Young and significant draft capital.

While DeRozan looks certain to throw on Bulls colors next year, Young’s situation with his apparent new team looks a bit shaky at the moment. Even with the deal announced, it has yet to be finalized, possibly with San Antonio shopping the 33-year old Young who currently stands attached to an expiring contract.

It makes zero sense for the Spurs to hold onto Young as a team looking to rebuild with more youthful pieces at the moment. If the Spurs find the right suitor over next few days, they might trade Young, and turn this exchange with the Bulls into a three-team deal.

Even if they fail to jump on this though, the Spurs can also take on Young for now, and then trade him after the 30-day deadline for a “recently traded player” ends. Needless to say, they have options.

The Phoenix Suns need to capitalize on this opportunity, and find a way to acquire Young.

Before the Suns began their free agency shopping period, they upgraded their roster by trading for Landry Shamet. But even with his skillset and their other new free agent additions considered, Torrey Craig’s departure still leaves them at a significant loss.

Along with his great point of attack defense and 3-point shooting last year, Craig proved incredibly useful with his versatility as an auxiliary big anytime Ayton needed to hit the bench. One solution to this Craig’s absence could be McGee, who remains an effective rim protector, but his lacking mobility still makes him a partial liability. Jalen Smith carries some potential as well, but is likely still too raw and unrefined to contribute toward at a playoff-ready rotation just yet.

But where both these options struggle, Young excels, making him the right choice to fill Craig’s shoes. Not only does Young carry the same versatile skillset as Craig, but he also possesses the ability to play effectively as a wing with Ayton on the floor, or as a center without him.

Thaddeus Young’s Scoring

Young specialized as an inside scorer last season. He took more than 90.0 percent of his shots from within 10 feet, while hitting at a 60.0 percent clip from said region. This smart shot selection and effective shot making allowed to Young average career-best 57.8 true shooting percentage, averaging a solid volume at 18.2 points per 75 minutes as well.

The “Thadgic Johnson” hook shot was one of Young’s most effective scoring moves last season, as he perfectly utilized his great touch around the rim.

Thaddeus Young’s Passing

When teams decide to double Young, he always makes smart and capable reads to find the open man on a consistent basis. Backpicks’ metrics validates his passing skillset, placing him in the 93rd percentile under passer rating. Those strike as fantastic numbers for anyone, let alone a wing/big hybrid like Young.

Thaddeus Young’s Defense

Young remains a clear positive force on the defensive end as well. Although his age has caused his athletic ability to deteriorate a bit, his discipline makes up for it. Young’s ability to close out, rotate, and communicate would mesh incredibly with the Suns already established defensive tendencies.

Thad’s hands come as his greatest tool while defending though. His 2.2 steals per 100 possessions ranked as one of the highest for players at same position as him last year. Especially for Phoenix, Young’s ability to play both beside Ayton and in his leave makes him a great asset as well, filling in for Craig almost by definition.

Thaddeus Young’s Impact with on the Phoenix Suns

In the 1652 minutes with Young on the floor last year, the Bulls posted a +4.32 net rating. But while off the floor, the Bulls earned a -5.41 net rating.

Although the two have yet to play together even during his 14-year career, Young seems like a compatible piece to stick beside Devin Booker as well. His impact on Chicago star Zach LaVine makes a solid case for this.

In the minutes he was on the floor without Young, LaVine averaged 26.6 points per 75 possessions with a 61.5 true shooting percentage. Pretty good numbers, but still notably worse than the 30.8 points per 75 possessions on 65.0 true shooting that he averaged with Young.

Young’s high-IQ, combined with his passing ability clearly helped a star put up superstar scoring numbers, and this should translate over with Booker.

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