Thaddeus Young 2018 Season Review

Pacers forward Thaddeus Young talks about his season and discusses his plans for the offseason.

Thaddeus Young 2018 Player Review

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Thaddeus Young 2018 Season Review

Pacers forward Thaddeus Young talks about his season and discusses his plans for the offseason.
May 11, 2018  |  03:47

Thaddeus Young 2017-18 Season Highlights

Check out some of the top plays from Pacers forward Thaddeus Young's 2017-18 season.
May 11, 2018  |  02:20

My Home Court: Thaddeus Young

Growing up in Memphis, Pacers forward Thaddeus Young developed his game and his toughness playing pickup games on a concrete court.
Apr 4, 2018  |  02:45

Player Review 2018: Thaddeus Young

by Mark Montieth Writer

Age: 29
Years Pro: 10
Status: Has a player option on the final season of his contract.
Key Stats: Started 81 games, sitting out the final one by coach's decision to rest before the playoffs. Averaged 11.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.7 steals.

One way or another, Thaddeus Young will have a major influence on the Pacers' future this summer.

If he accepts the final season on his contract, he's likely to remain the starting "four" next season. If he exercises his option to become a free agent, the Pacers have (even) more money at their disposal and will have to make a significant roster change, if not changes, to account for his absence. He also can go for the best of both worlds and opt out to re-sign a multi-year contract with the Pacers.

Young has always been a steady, solid, below-the-radar kind of player who fits seamlessly into every team that acquires him, but he emerged as something more than that in the playoffs. He had an outstanding defensive series guarding Kevin Love and LeBron James and made numerous "play-the-right-way" contributions.

The case could be made, in fact, that Young was the Pacers' MVP of the postseason series against Cleveland. Peer deep into the eyes of the advanced stats, and they will tell you so. He led the Pacers in win shares per 48 minutes, a complicated formula that takes into account everything a player can do to win (or lose) a game.

PHOTO GALLERY: Thaddeus Young's 2017-18 Season in Photos »

Young averaged just 11.3 points in the playoffs but hit 60 percent of his field goal attempts, an obvious indication of his unselfishness. He led the Pacers in offensive rebounding and blocked shots and ranked second in steals, all while averaging just one turnover in 34 minutes. He still ranks among the postseason top 10 in steals, offensive rebounds, and average plus/minus, as well as niche categories such as deflections and contested 3-point shots.

Although he didn't star in any of the Pacers' seven playoff games, he played well in each of them and contributed significantly to each of the three victories — with persistent defensive pressure and without forcing anything offensively.

"I'm staying patient and staying poised and taking advantage of the opportunities being given to me," he said, which is pretty much his approach to every game.

Young's regular season production was down from the previous season, at least offensively. His overall shooting percentage dropped from 53 to 49, his 3-point percentage from 38 to 32 and his free throw percentage from 71 to 60. There were some curious numbers within his stat lines, such as the fact he hit just 51 percent of his free throws in home games. He also slumped late in the season, hitting just 21 percent of his 3-pointers in the 15 games in March, which forecast his 29 percent accuracy in the playoffs.

Those meager shooting percentages could impact his future with the Pacers, or at least his role if he returns. Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers' director of basketball operations, was asked recently about his team's needs for next season and said bluntly, "We need a four who can shoot." That isn't Young. Or at least it wasn't this past season. He hit 46 percent of his 3-point shots through the first 31 games in 2016-17, but his accuracy dropped off the rest of the season, particularly after he suffered a sprained wrist on his shooting arm. He's shown he can shoot well from the perimeter throughout his 10 NBA seasons, but has not done so consistently.

He finds ways to consistently contribute, though, whether he's shooting well or not. Aside from his well-rounded skill set he's a respected leader, indicated by the fact his teammates voted him a co-captain in the preseason. He's also a policeman and a voice of reason for the younger players when they need correction. When Lance Stephenson, for example, resorted to playground mode in a scrimmage before training camp and began calling too many fouls on drives to the basket, Young walked over, silently took the ball from him, and played on.

He'll have to decide soon whether to play on with the Pacers or another NBA team. He turns 30 on June 21, so he should have quality seasons left in him. His ideal scenario likely would be to receive a multi-year contract to replace the option year on his current deal, but Pritchard gets to make that call — and if Pritchard is determined to improve 3-point shooting at that position, Young might have to look elsewhere if he wants the security of a multi-year deal.

Asked about his contract option following what turned out to be the Pacers' final practice session of the season, the day before their Game 7 loss to Cleveland, Young demurred.

"I know they want me to be around and I would love to be around, but that's not something I'm thinking about right now," he said.

He immediately added how much he would like to remain with the Pacers, however.

"This season is amazing, these players are amazing," he said. "It's one of the best locker rooms I've ever been around, full of guys who are high character, professional. And they come to work each and every day and put their hard hat on, just like I do.

"I'm all for these guys, I'm all for the fans, I'm all for Indiana and being here. I love it here and my family loves it here. We'll have to see what it brings at the end of the day."

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Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.