The Portland Trail Blazers need some help down low and could look to the services of veteran forward, Thaddeus Young.
The Portland Trail Blazers have been bitten hard by the injury bug and their frontcourt is a little bit depleted at the moment because of it.
Starting center Jusuf Nurkic is recovering from a leg fracture, Zach Collins had surgery on his dislocated shoulder, Pau Gasol is recovering from a foot fracture and Hassan Whiteside hyperextended his knee.
Whiteside is currently the only one able to play through his injury right now and Portland will have to keep a close eye on his health going forward. He missed most of the preseason with an ankle injury, so he is still trying to get in shape and in condition.
The Blazers are currently relying on Skal Labissière to play backup center minutes and Anthony Tolliver to start at power forward. Backing up Tolliver is Mario Hezonja. Based on the circumstances, all three guys have been OK, jumping into their increased minutes’ role.
Labissière has been a pleasant surprise at the 5, but Tolliver was mainly brought in to provide a shooting punch off the bench and Hezonja should be playing mostly in the backcourt.
With no Nurkic or Collins, the Blazers are missing a physical presence down low. They need someone who can bang around with the opposing team’s bigs and go get a bucket in the paint.
Portland is going to need to make a trade and there are plenty of big-name players being talked about that people think would make them instantly better — guys like Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Danilo Gallinari.
But let’s take a look at a player that nobody has been talking about when discussing trade ideas for the Blazers. And that is Thaddeus Young. He is currently playing for the Chicago Bulls and since he signed with them in free agency, he can’t be traded until Dec. 15.
Young is 31 and has been in the league for 13 years. He is a 6’8″, 230-pound power forward that can score at all three levels on the floor. Young is also a solid rebounder and can defend multiple positions.
For his career, he is averaging 13.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game while also shooting 50.1 percent from the field and 33 percent from the 3-point line. Young has played over 900 total career games.
If the Blazers traded for Young, he could immediately start at the power forward spot for them instead of Tolliver. He could also play center in some small-ball lineups as well.
He won’t be asked to do a lot on the offensive end and could be more of a fourth or fifth scoring option. Young would see plenty of open looks and one-on-one matchups playing with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Rodney Hood and eventually Nurkic.
On defense, Young gives them a player who can guard small-ball centers and defend out on the wing if needed as well. He can grab a defensive rebound and take it to coast to coast.
The nice thing about adding a veteran player like Young is at this point in his career; he probably just wants to win and be with a good organization that takes care of their players. That’s the Blazers.
Once Zach Collins returns to the Blazers towards the end of the season, Young could either continue to start for the Blazers or could come off the bench and give the second unit a big boost.
Young is not the most flashy guy n the league, but he is a solid all-around basketball player who knows what he can and cannot do and has been one of the better role players in the NBA for a while. Fans might not want him because they would rather have a more prominent name player, but just because they have a big name doesn’t mean they are the better fit for the team.
Young’s knowledge of the NBA, skill on both ends, and ability to still impact the game at a high level should make him a target for the Blazers as the league gets closer and closer to the NBA trade deadline.