It is rare at 25 years old to be considered an elder statesman of anything.
Many 25 year olds are just finding their way in the working world, let alone being looked to for leadership. But with six professional seasons under his belt and a roster comprised of fresh faces, that is exactly the position Thaddeus Young finds himself in heading into this season with the Sixers.
With much of the Sixers’ roster comprised of rookies and other fringe free agents, Young stands as the team’s longest-tenured and most experienced player. He has seen a handful of coaching changes since the Sixers selected him in the first round of the 2007 draft, as Brett Brown will serve as his fifth head coach in seven seasons.
Young has also played under Mo Cheeks, Tony DiLeo, Eddie Jordan and Doug Collins. His role has consistently changed under each coach as well, as he has been both a starter and a reserve, and spent ample time at both forward spots.
After so much team turmoil, a lot of talented players in Young’s position would be looking for the first ticket out of town, looking to play with some top talent or at least for the same coach for a couple seasons.
However, last Friday in the media access area of Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers Summit, Young seemed genuinely excited about the opportunity to learn from Brett Brown, to serve as a leader to some of the younger guys, and about the future of the franchise in general.
"The offseason has been good. I’ve been working hard, working on my game, and getting ready to get back at it,” he said about his time off.
“[Brett Brown] seems like a smart guy,” Young stated when asked about his new coach, occasionally glancing up at the mass of media members surrounding Meek Mill on the opposite side of the room. “He obviously comes from a good organization in San Antonio, and has a lot of experience with winning.”
Considering that Young had just participated in a panel aimed at inspiring young people to follow their goals, it seemed only natural he would get asked about leadership within the Sixers organization.
“Last year, [leadership] was kind of divided between me and Jrue [Holiday],” Young said, smiling, clearly well-aware of the expanded leadership role he would be looked at to take. “There were people that looked up to both of us. Now with him gone, more of that responsibility is going to fall to me.”
The Sixers have a handful of players 22 or younger, with much less NBA experience than Young’s six seasons. Almost by default, a lot of these young guys will be looking to Young for leadership throughout what is sure to be a struggle of a season.
“I’m still only 25 years old,” Young joked, "but I’m going into my seventh season and fourth or fifth different coach, so it’s a little different for me.”
Young’s consistent play, experience and professionalism make him the type of player that organizations are happy to have looked to for leadership, and Young seems eager to embrace that aspect.