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2014-2015 Brooklyn Nets Player Review: Thaddeus Young

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Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Thaddeus Young's presence in the Brooklyn Nets organization -- both on and off the court was vibrant  -- and he only played with the team for 28 games. When you think of Lionel Hollins and his style of play, you think of guys like Thaddeus Young. The players that take the strenuous task of the night by hustling after every loose ball  and fighting for every chance down low to put home a bucket. He was a force inside the paint, molding Brooklyn's front-court into one of the most complementary front lines in the Eastern Conference. It's too bad it didn't happen earlier!

Young came over to Brooklyn in a trade that sent the vocal, yet immobile leader, Kevin Garnett to Minnesota. It's just what the doctor ordered for Brooklyn, an exuberant power forward that could stretch the floor and loosen things up down low for Brook Lopez.

The Nets started the season 21-31, but finished 17-13 in the second half with Young on the team. His tenure with the team was foreshadowed in his first game, first play when he helped scrap out a loose ball and ran the floor to finishing with a beautiful alley-oop to Markel Brown. The Nets had legs and a sense of life that we didn't see the entire first half of the season.

And so did Thaddeus.

He finished the season averaging 13.8 points per game and 5.9 rebounds on on 49.5% shooting. His addition to the team seemed like a perfect puzzle piece for Lionel Hollins' future personnel needs.

However, the 26-year old Young can opt-out of his final year with the Nets in pursuit of a longer deal from either the Nets or another team. Lionel Hollins and Billy King have voiced their desire to keep him.

King spoke to reporters about the upcoming offseason and he was quite clear in his word that the Nets wants Thaddeus back by saying, "No disrespect to Mirza [Teletovic], but my main focus is Brook [Lopez] and Thaddeus [Young] because they're two key pieces for us."

It looks like Billy King may be around for a while. He was the guy who drafted Young and still sees the potential in him. It may be a perfect fit, similar to how Young was for the Nets down the stretch.

STATS

2014-2015

Thaddeus Young

Games Played

28

Minutes per game

29.6

True Shooting percentage

53.9

Assist rate

8.7

Turnover rate

9.6

Usage rate

21.9

Rebound rate

11.1

PER

17.1

Win Shares per 48

.095

The table above shows his numbers with just the Nets, not the Timberwolves. In Minnesota, he averaged a little over 33 minutes on a subpar team. In Brooklyn, he averaged 29.6 and still scored just about the same amount per game while increasing his rebounding numbers, field goal and three point percentage. As noted, Young averaged close to 14 points and six rebounds per game next to to a guy that averaged 17 and 7.

The front-court was no longer an issue once Lopez and Young started playing together. No more gerry-built lineups. Between the two of them, they played together  23.1 minutes per game. The only combination better was Joe Johnson and Deron Williams, who averaged just three more minutes together.

SALARY SITUATION

Thaddeus Young has a player option of $10 million for the upcoming season. He could decide to opt-out and search for a longer --and bigger-- deal with the Nets or a different team, or opt-in for the final year of his contract and then look for an even bigger deal in 2016 when the new TV deal will dramatically increase the salary caps.

Back in March, Young expressed some desire to stay in Brooklyn.

"It's one of those things where they want me for the future, they want to keep me around," Young told reporters. "It's a mutual feeling."

Late April, Young's mind was in the same place when he spoke to Moke Hamilton of SNY.

"I went from a team that was rebuilding and restructuring and not going to the playoffs to one that could potentially make the playoffs, so I thought that was a perfect situation."

Or as his wife, Shekinah, already a fan favorite, tweeted at the end of the season, "We love Brooklyn."

BEST MOMENT

The Nets were down 2-1 in the Atlanta series. The Nets, an eighth seed, were in the midst of tying the series at two apiece against the number one seeded Hawks. Brooklyn was up one with 1:12 remaining in overtime. As the team worked the shot clock, Joe Johnson hit Thaddeus Young on the lower right block and Thad made Atlanta pay with an and-one foul that essentially sealed the deal. It was one of the loudest moments any of us have ever heard at Barclays Center.

NEEDS TO

Thad's game is pretty versatile, but there's always room for improvement. His rebound numbers of six per game may need to increase in order for Brooklyn to be a powerhouse down low. Assuming he and Brook Lopez will be back, the big fella Lopez will definitely need some help on the glass. That was a load Brook carried in the second half of the season when Kevin Garnett was traded.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHT

[See headline photo]

The 21 points against the 76ers shows just how versatile Thaddeus really is on the offensive side. He can post-up, work with the ball in his hands, utilize the pick & roll/pop and hit the long ball at a pretty efficient rate for a power forward. His loose-ball hustle goes without saying.

IN THE FUTURE

Thaddeus Young can and very well may be a big piece of the Nets future. You read above what Billy King had to say about Young and how re-signing him is the focal point of the off-season, along with Lopez. If Young returns, along with Lopez, then things may not be so gloomy. The Nets will head into the 2015-2016 campaign with one of the most productive front-courts in the conference. They were that for the second half of the 2014-2015 season. With a few minor adjustments, maybe, just maybe, the Nets can grab some of that momentum from late last season and carry it over into a pretty solid following year.

GRADE: B+

He came into Brooklyn and did what he was expected to do. He's not a superstar, but he's certainly an underrated piece that any team would utilize one way or another. Give him a full season in Brooklyn and he'll show what he's capable of.

He's still only 26 years old.