Bulls

Thad Young delivers with trademark consistency in rout of Atlanta Hawks

Thad Young delivers with trademark consistency in rout of Atlanta Hawks

Even after playing a season- and game-high 32 minutes, 47 seconds Wednesday night, Thad Young is averaging 21:38 this season. 

That’s the second-lowest average of Young’s consistently solid 13-season career. Only in Young’s rookie season with the 76ers way back in 2007-08 did he play less, at 21 minutes per game.

When Young signed a three-year, $43 million deal in free agency, $32 million of which is guaranteed, he knew he’d come off the bench behind Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. But he couldn’t have expected to play so little, particularly after averaging 30-32 minutes while starting 236 games for the Pacers over the last three seasons. 

“Things happen. You have to play through it and be a pro with the time you get. When I’m out there, it shows on the court,” Young said. “It’s definitely frustrating when you don’t get as many minutes as you’ve been getting. But you can’t let it bother you. You have to keep trying to stay in rhythm and come to the gym every day and keep working.

“I’ll always be there for my teammates, no matter if I don’t like the situation or it’s not going my way. You have to continue to play and let your teammates know you’re there for them. I’m not one of those guys who likes to cause a lot of commotion. I don’t want to be a distraction for the team. I want to play whatever minutes I get and when I’m out there, just be productive.”

That Young was in the Bulls’ 136-102 cakewalk over the Hawks. Young stuffed the box score with 15 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals.

“When he checked in, I thought the separation happened in the game,” coach Jim Boylen said. 

This wasn’t simply a matter of Young fattening his statistics against a listless Hawks team. He played close to 15 minutes in the first half before the game got out of hand, on pace to log 30 minutes for just the second time this season. 

That he ended up getting some run in the second-half blowout helped his staggering plus-33. But it also allowed him to contribute those plays that don’t always show up in the box score — finding Lauri Markkanen with a crosscourt pass for a 3-pointer, deflecting passes. 

“It’s always good when you get more opportunity. The longer I play, the more I get a chance to show what I can do. And not just scoring but filling up the stat sheet where I have assists, get rebounds, get steals, high intensity on the defensive end to get us extra possessions,” Young said. “Most importantly, it’s always good to get a win.”

Young said he’d be open to playing small forward if Boylen asks, a pregame topic that Boylen fielded a question on with Otto Porter Jr. out at least another month and Chandler Hutchison still not back. That didn’t happen against the Hawks. 

But extra playing time did. And Young delivered with the consistency that has defined his career.

“That’s how I built my career and how I’ve made the money I’ve made and how I’ve made the name I’ve made in this league and gained respect. I come with my hard hat every night. I’m ready to play and do whatever the team needs,” Young said. “If I’m not scoring, I’m rebounding. If I’m not rebounding or scoring, then I’m getting steals and creating havoc on the defensive end. I take pride in being there for my guys and being a warrior.”

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NBA Mock Draft 3.0: Workout season could be more important than ever

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USA TODAY

NBA Mock Draft 3.0: Workout season could be more important than ever

With Zion Williamson making his NBA regular season debut Wednesday night, we finally got a chance to see what a No. 1 overall draft pick is supposed to look like: an athletic and versatile skill set, with the chance to impact a franchise for years to come. 

2019 No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant also looks like a franchise-changing talent with his speed and playmaking ability, lifting Memphis into playoff contention.

So, which players will have that kind of impact in the 2020 draft?

Well, for now it’s almost impossible to say. James Wiseman, the 7-foot-1 Memphis center, dropped out of school after playing just three games because of an eligibility battle with the NCAA. His size and raw tools are intriguing, but at this point his offensive game is extremely limited.

Meanwhile, Lonzo Ball’s younger brother, LaMelo is sitting out the rest of the Australian professional league season while he rehabs from a foot injury, another Australian professional, R.J. Hampton, just returned from a hip injury and North Carolina’s combo guard Cole Anthony is getting ready to return from a knee injury to finish his one and done season. 

That’s left NBA talent evaluators scrambling in trying to figure out the top of the draft, with only Georgia’s Anthony Edwards healthy and available among the players projected as the possible No. 1 overall pick. 

So, as we get closer to the end of January, here’s a look at how teams could view the available talent, with the understanding that the draft order will change dramatically as NBA scouts and GMs get a look at how players perform in the most important games of the season still to come.

2020 NBA mock draft 3.0

Kemba Walker and Trae Young being named All-Star starters could help Zach LaVine

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USA Today

Kemba Walker and Trae Young being named All-Star starters could help Zach LaVine

On Thursday, the NBA revealed the East and West starters for the 2020 All-Star Game in Chicago. Take a look:


Bulls fans will be honed in on the East selections given Zach LaVine's absence, though his realistic chances of starting the game have been slim-to-none since the first month of the season. In the last round of fan voting returns, LaVine was sixth among Eastern Conference backcourt players. He finished there, as well:


LaVine will get a chance to slide into a reserve slot, but the East’s starting backcourt of Kemba Walker and Trae Young leaves a crowded field to contend with. Guards competing for the seven reserve spots include Ben Simmons, Khris Middleton, Kyle Lowry, Bradley Beal, Malcolm Brogdon and Jaylen Brown. And that's without mentioning frontcourt favorites in Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Jayson Tatum and Domantas Sabonis.

But a modicum of good news did come from this announcement for those stumping for LaVine: Kyrie Irving's omission from the starting lineup. Irving, who has only played 15 games this season, had been second in fan voting at the time of last returns. Had he snuck in with the starters, LaVine would have also had Walker or Young to compete with for a reserve spot, both of whom he matches up with unfavorably. One has to figure Irving's odds of being selected by coaches as a reserve aren't high.

LaVine's chances still aren't necessarily great, but the coaches' picks for reserves will be announced on Jan. 30. If LaVine is shorted there, as well, there remains the possibility of an injury replacement down the road, which commissioner Adam Silver would select (this is probably his best shot).

Once the final pool of players is decided, they'll be drafted by team captains Giannis Antetokoumpo and LeBron James on Feb. 6.

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