1. Thaddeus is already a great defender
Thaddeus Young has never once averaged less than one steal a game and is also solid on the inside. At 6-8 and 240 pounds, Young is a bruiser who can overpower anyone trying to post him up. His 7-1 wingspan gives him shot-blocking potential, and he has the weapons needed to be an elite perimeter defender.
Regardless of where Young fits in the depth chart, he provides excellent defense for his role. Between Johnson, Murray, and Poeltl in the starting five, Young can lockdown any team’s first option unless it’s a guard, then Murray is the better fit. Realistically, Young can defend all five positions, which is going above and beyond for a fringe starter on the roster.
If he does defend on the perimeter, the pick and roll become immediately useless for opposing teams. If a center sets a screen on Young, Poeltl can pick up the smaller guard on the way to the basket, and Young can change the cover and take on the taller center. If anyone other than a seven-foot, 240-pound giant sets the pick, Young could just bulldoze through it. He has options.
With his size, wingspan, and athletic ability, he presents himself as a closeout option. If the ball handler kicks the ball out to the corner, Young can immediately get in the shooter’s face, making the shot a lot more difficult. Occasionally, he can send a 3-ball into the stands with a well-timed swat.
Between the starting five, Young will be an elite second or third defender, perhaps propelling San Antonio into a top-five defensive finish. If he comes off the bench, he can be grouped with Lonnie Walker and Tre Jones, both of whom are very good defenders. He can also make up for Bryn Forbes and his defensive shortcomings, ensuring that the Spurs’ bench will be well-rounded on both ends of the floor.