BOSTON --- Thad Young is averaging 3.3 3-point attempts per game, the second-highest total of his career.
This is less a reflection of Young wanting to become the next Steph Curry and more a reflection of him doing what his coach has asked.
“Those are the things our staff encourages. They encourage us to take threes and layups, I think that’s the type of league that we’re in now, a 3 and layup-type game. No long twos and less on the post-ups and stuff like that because it slows down the game or it stagnates the offense,” Young said following shootaround. “Just trying to be able to evolve. If I’m open, I’ll shoot it. If I’m not, I'll drive it or move it so just being able to do a lot of different things and not staying on the wing, I think that’s one of the biggest things that I have to continue to get better at. And also with my teammates, just feeding and trying to figure out them a little bit better than I have in the past games that we’ve played so far.”
Young is shooting 32.3 percent from 3-point range, which is basically right at his career average of 32.8 percent. He has averaged 1.5 3-point attempts in his 13-year NBA career and his highest season average from his three with the Pacers is 2.2 per game.
“Yeah, I mean that’s not how I played pretty much my whole career. But like I said, its what’s being asked of me. I’m the type of guy my coach asks me to do something, if he asks me to run through a brick wall, I know it’s going to hurt but I’m going to try and run through that brick wall,” Young said. “So it is what it is. I’ve always been a team-first guy. I’ve always been a guy who listens to the coaching staff and what they’re trying to instill in us and what they’re trying to do and then try to go out there and accomplish the mission.”
Boylen appreciates this mentality.
“He’s just tough. He does everything we ask him to do. He has played different for us than he did in Indiana. You have to give him credit for that. He’s spacing it. He has shot it well. Our system is different than them. He has made the adjustment,” Boylen said. “Defensively, he knocks balls loose. He competes. He’s a great voice in the locker room. He’s a great voice on the floor. He believes in the work it takes to build a team. He loves to practice. Those things are all really valuable for us. I can have a conversation with him and we can talk about things. I think that’s important.”
Asked if playing this style was conveyed to him when he signed with the Bulls during the free-agency process, Young said no.
“But at the end of the day, everybody here signed up for a certain thing and they all signed up believing in what we’re trying to build,” Young said. “So, just go out there and do what we’re supposed to do as far as our job and make sure that we’ll continue to build and we’ll continue to grow as a team.”
Boylen admitted it was “a hard ask” but an “easy sell” for Young to play a different style than he has the majority of his career. He reiterated this is borne out of wanting to establish a style of play at both ends with both the starting and reserve units playing similarly.
“He’s very willing to help, please. He’s a pro, man,” Boylen said. “I’ve mentioned, though, that I don’t want to have a system where injury makes us play differently from night to night. Illness, sickness, guy has the flu, now we have to play a whole different way? We don’t want to do that. With that comes some growing pains.
“I think it’s fair to say Wendell Carter is better in our pick-and-roll defense than Daniel (Gafford) and Luke (Kornet). It’s not a cut to them. It’s the reality of he’s an elite dude at it. So they have to grow with that because I don’t want to have change everything we do on a game-to-game basis. That’s not how you build something. And Thad has bought into that.
“I want my 4 to play the same way in the first group as the second. We tweak it a little for him. We run a couple things for him. But in general, we play the same way with the second group. And he has bought into that. And it wasn’t a hard sell to him. But it was an adjustment to him. Not being a hard sell is a credit to him. Good dude.
“We established it in September and October. We all understood it was a different style for him, a different way to play. I thought with his skill set and his intelligence that he could do it. And he has done it.”
Young is averaging 8.7 points, the second-lowest scoring average of his career behind his rookie season. His 22.2 minutes per game also are the lowest since his rookie season.
“Biggest adjustment is not starting and playing less minutes,” Young said. “Obviously when you get up in age or you come to a certain situation where you’re focused on development of certain guys and you’re focused on different things, you as a veteran, you take those hits.
“You just got to go out there and play every time you get and just be productive. Make sure you’re doing the right things to help the team win and then also just helping guys grow, younger guys. It’s a situation where we’re grooming a lot of guys at one time. You have Lauri (Markkanen), you have Daniel, you have Coby (White), you have a lot of young guys on the team, Chandler Hutchison. So just helping those guys get better each and every day and just making sure that when I’m going out there I’m impacting the game in certain ways in the time that I do get.”
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