Veteran Presence: Empowering The San Antonio Spurs’ Young Core
There are innumerable reasons Thaddeus Young is beloved by the fanbase at every stop in his career.
He goes out of his way to learn every single teammates’ tendencies so he can better help them on the court. He couldn't care less if he starts or comes off the bench. He plays his tail off and endears himself to coaches, fans, and teammates alike with his hustle plays.
All these qualities add up to an invaluable locker room presence, one the Bulls struggled to part ways with at the trade deadline as they tried to make a playoff push.
In the Bulls Talk Podcast interview, Young said he made it a point to help LaVine become an All-Star when he arrived in Chicago as a free agent in 2019.
Two years later, LaVine was finally selected as an All-Star. But according to him, someone else was the team’s MVP.
“Thad has been, for me personally, the MVP of the team. He does a little bit of everything," said LaVine. "He’s the type of guy you love to have on your team.”
It’d be borderline irresponsible to suggest one player is solely responsible for another player’s ascension. However, Young clearly played a role in LaVine’s development and was a steadying voice in his ear who aided him in navigating the delicate balance of scoring and facilitating.
As he put it, “Sometimes I have to reinforce that [message with LaVine] that ‘You’re the man. We go as far as you take us.’”
Young’s presence would do wonders for the Spurs’ young players who will be expected to absorb more responsibilities than they have to this point in their careers now that several ball-dominant veterans have moved on.
But how does this veteran differ from the ones who left San Antonio this offseason? That answer comes on the other end of the floor.