Veteran forward Thaddeus Young has been a top contributor for the Chicago Bulls this season. But there was a time last offseason where he didn’t think he’d be here.
The Bulls are no doubt thankful he is. Even if their season ends up falling short of the playoffs, they’ll only have been close because of the 32-year old’s contributions.
After their latest loss, Chicago is now 22-31, and five games back of the Eastern Conference eighth seed.
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Young Hit Rock Bottom
No matter how the season turns out for the Chicago Bulls, fans and the team alike will undoubtedly remain thankful for the progressions made from last season’s dumpster fire.
The new-look front office, ushered in by the arrival of Arturas Karnisovas, let two-year head coach Jim Boylen go months before the start of the 2020-2021 campaign back in August.
Under the aforementioned head coach, the Bulls were miserable. Both on and off the floor. Chicago went 39-84 under Boylen, and missed the playoffs in both of his two seasons at the helm.
After two years with the Bulls, Thaddeus Young thought he was ready to hang them up. In a guest appearance on Bulls Talk Podcast, he told Jason Goff and K.C. Johnson he actually contemplated retirement over the offseason:
Last year was real tough on me. I actually thought about last year just like, ‘Man, after this I’m done.’I had never really been frustrated. And I had got so frustrated with just a lot of the stuff that was going on to the point where it was like, ‘Is it even worth it to continue to even deal with it?’
The 32-year old credited his wife, Shekinah, for talking him out of his thoughts of retirement:
But then I talked to my wife. And she always kind of reels me back in. Like, ‘What are you talking about? You ain’t a (expletive) quitter…I appreciate her for just being 100 percent honest with me. I had to really start thinking about it, like, ‘No, I just went from playing in Indy at a super high level to coming to Chicago. It’s not me.
Young averaged 10.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.4 steals for a Chicago Bulls team that went just 22-43.
Thankfully, his return for the 2020-2021 has helped serve as the catalyst for both the franchise and his own turnaround.
The Real MVP
The Chicago Bulls are a team rolling out two All-Stars in Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine, as well as two former lottery picks in Coby White and Patrick Williams.
But it’s 32-year old Thaddeus Young who’s been the team’s engine, and arguably, most consistent player.
The veteran forward is posting career numbers: 12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, a carer-high 4.3 assists, and 1.2 steals while shooting 58 percent from the field.
Per Basketball Reference/Stathead Basketball’s search engine, only eight players age 30 or older have put together that stat line since 2007: Paul Pierce, LeBron James (7x), Marc Gasol, Russell Westbrook (2x), Jimmy Butler, James Harden (2x), Paul George, and of course now, Thaddeus Young.
Notice something? Chicago’s team-MVP is the only non-All-Star on that list.
Young may be having his worst career season from behind-the-arc with a 22 percent three-point average, but you’d be hard pressed to find anything else he’s incapable of doing on the hardwood.
It’s hard to imagine where the Chicago Bulls will be when Young moves on from the Windy City.
Luckily, it’s not a reality they’ve had to face just yet.
But it was, well, almost.