The right ankle injury 76ers forward Thaddeus Young sustained in the first quarter of Tuesday night’s victory over the Atlanta Hawks is severe enough to keep him out 2 to 3 weeks, the Sixers said.
Young’s ankle bent at a grotesque angle when he went up to block a shot by the Hawks’ Josh Smith and his foot came down on Smith’s. X-rays were negative, but the results of an MRI show a right ankle sprain and bone bruise, according to Dr. Jack McPhilemy.
Young is on crutches and also wearing an air cast.
"I spoke to Thad at halftime (of the Atlanta game)," coach Tony DiLeo said at practice earlier today. "He was down. He’s been playing at a high level. He’s just disappointed, and a little apprehensive.”
President/general manager Ed Stefanski said he spoke to Young today and “his spirits were good,” all things considered.
“The turning of the ankle, the severity of it … we forget, he’s 20 years old. He was shook up (because) he hasn’t been hurt before.
“But there was no fracture, which was great. Now we just have to see how long he’ll be out.”
With only nine games remaining in the regular season, DiLeo and Stefanski not only have to consider ramifications in the short term -- such as, who takes Young’s place in the starting lineup? -- but over the slightly longer haul.
“If Thad is out for any kind of period, it probably would make sense to bring someone in who is at that swing position,” said Stefanski, noting that the 6-8 Young, a second-year NBA player out of Georgia Tech, not only has been starting at the 4 (power forward) but logging some minutes at the 3 (small forward).
“We’ve been scouting the NBDL (National Basketball Development League) all year. Guys are out there. We have a lit that we keep reviewing.”
With Young out, the Sixers went to a bigger lineup most of the way against the Hawks. Rookie Marreese Speights, with 16 points in – minutes, had his highest-scoring game since he went off for 24 points against Phoenix on Feb. 9. Reggie Evans and Theo Ratliff also played well off the bench.
So who fills in for Young at the opening tip tomorrow night?
“We haven’t decided yet,” DiLeo said, before acknowledging that “basically, we know. We just don’t want to put it out there yet.”
Speights, though, seems to be the logical choice based on his strong performance against Atlanta.
“I like last night’s game because (Speights) got minutes, he produced, he got his confidence back,” DiLeo said. “I think he’ll be a big contributor coming down the stretch, especially with Thad out.”