Why Thaddeus Young should start playing more minutes for the Suns

The Phoenix Suns added Thaddeus Young through the buyout market, and he needs to start playing more minutes for the team immediately.

Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns
Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns / Chris Coduto/GettyImages
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The 2023-24 NBA season is approaching its end, and the Phoenix Suns (39-29) are making a final push to be in a better position for the playoffs. At the moment of this writing, the Suns are eighth in the Western Conference standings, which makes them a Play-In team.

If that's the spot the team will enter the postseason, it'll be the first time in franchise history they'll participate in the Play-In Tournament.

The Suns recently took a tough 140-129 loss against the Milwaukee Bucks without Giannis Antetokounmpo. During their contest, Kevin Durant received criticism for his performance with a measly 11 points on 4-10 shooting. It was Grayson Allen who led the team in scoring with 25 points. Devin Booker and Bradley Beal also did their part as the stars, with 23 and 28 points, respectively.

According to sources, the Suns have the second-toughest schedule remaining this season. Their upcoming game will be against the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that has fallen from the standings in the Eastern Conference. But that doesn't mean the team should ignore what they're capable of.

Amid the Suns' struggles, many wonder why the team hasn't allowed Thaddeus Young to play. The front office went out of their way to pursue him, but he's seen zero action since joining the team.

The acquisition of Young was a smart move for the Suns. Many experts lauded the front office's decision to add the veteran big man to their rotation. Since entering the league in 2007, he has become a lethal two-way player.

His 7-foot-1 wingspan gives him a significant advantage to outperform others defensively, whether guarding a big man or a perimeter player. On the offensive end, the veteran forward can stretch the defense with his shooting.

Given all the positives he provides on the floor, why isn't he playing?

No one knows why head coach Frank Vogel isn't allowing the former 12th overall pick to play. Young isn't listed in the injury report and seems to be healthy. He's played a few games for the Suns, but only for a limited time. Since joining the Suns, Thad has only seen the floor three times. During those times, he was on the floor playing garbage minutes.

It's a waste to see Young on the bench when he can still provide versatility, especially in the frontcourt department. Even more shocking is that Bol Bol is getting more minutes than the veteran NBA player. It's not a knock on Bol's talent, but if the Suns are contending for the title, having a more experienced player with their core seems suitable.

Young has played the power forward position for most of his career. Despite being undersized at 6-foot-8, he's held his own against the best of the best. Looking at the Suns' rotation, Vogel has opted to play Drew Eubanks as the backup big, which is fair as he's consistent and a spark off the bench. But at times, he's getting beat by perimeter players, making him a defensive liability.

The Suns can address this problem by having Young play more minutes than Eubanks. His defensive intelligence and skillset can allow the team to stop opposing teams from targeting their big man on switches. In this theory, having Thad on the lineup will allow the team to play small ball. A lineup featuring the former Georgia Tech star, Durant, Allen, Beal, and Booker could open up the floor and keep the defenses guessing.

It's also worth noting that the Suns aren't the best defensive team this season. They're 13th in the league on defense, which isn't entirely terrible, but a hint of improvement could help their bid to contend for a title. 

There's also a concern that the coaching staff needs to address before the postseason starts. Young hasn't played much and hasn't familiarized himself with the system whenever he's on the floor because of it. In the Suns' March 9 loss against the Boston Celtics, Vogel shared his decision not to play Thad during the game.

""If a matchup fits, then we’ll use him, but right now he’s behind Drew (Eubanks) on the depth chart.""

Frank Vogel

If Vogel keeps using the matchup fit as his reason for Young's lack of involvement in the rotation, how else will the big man be handy when the playoffs arrive? They haven't shared their plans for the postseason, but there's a chance that he could see some time on the court, depending on the situation.

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Young will need to get a feel of his teammates on the court and in an actual regular season game for chemistry. With that, he'll get to know his teammates' strengths and weaknesses before the playoffs start.

A time will come when the Suns will need Thad Young on the court. Having him play with his teammates will be beneficial as the team approaches the postseason.