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Where Thaddeus Young stands in the Suns’ rotation after big performance against Nuggets

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With Jusuf Nurkić out due to injury, Thaddeus Young played his best game by far with the Phoenix Suns, helping the Suns knock off the defending-champion Denver Nuggets 104-97 on the road last night.

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Young finished with six points on 3-of-4 shooting, nine rebounds (four offensive) and was a team-high +15 in his 18 minutes off the bench for Phoenix (43-30). With Young on the floor, the Suns had an incredible defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 72.7 and an offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) of 111.4. This makes for a net rating (point differential per 100 possessions) of 38.7.

In comparison, the Suns as a team had a defensive rating of 106.6 for the entire game and a net rating of 6.5.

Young also had one of the most textbook rebounds you will see and a floater to beat the buzzer going into halftime.

Coach Frank Vogel’s thoughts on Thaddeus Young

Young, who was signed by Phoenix from the buyout market on Feb. 20, had only played 10 or more minutes in two games since being signed. The last time came in a March 2 loss to the Houston Rockets due to Nurkić going down with an injury.

“That’s the phone call when a guy gets waived, and when he’s trying to figure out where to sign,” coach Frank Vogel said of Young postgame last night. “I was like, ‘Thad, I need you to come here and help us win a couple of big games, couple playoff games, potentially, if we’re undermanned.’ This is the night where we needed him. He’s got to come in and guard the MVP (Nikola Jokić) for big stretches.”

Vogel was really pleased with what he saw from the veteran.

“He really played great on both sides of the ball,” Vogel added on Young. “His foot speed defensively on a bigger guy is a mixed pitch, which was good for us, his deflections, his hands. But he (also) got a lot of offensive rebound tip-outs. And then his pocket play. You hit him in the pocket, he’s been a 4 most of his career, so he’s got that strong left-hand drive. He made some great plays out of the pocket as well. (He) gives us a really good dynamic right there, and that’s what we asked him to do when we recruited him to come sign with us.”

At 35 years old and an NBA journeyman, the 6-foot-8 Young is a perfect fit for the Suns’ locker room and has enough experience to carve out a role on most teams. Young averaged 5.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game across 23 contests for Toronto this season before signing with Phoenix.

However, Young’s role on the Suns is to be the third-string center behind Nurkić and Drew Eubanks, Vogel has said when asked about why he doesn’t play more in the past.

Fans are calling for Young to be a part of the rotation after this strong performance, as they have been for a while.

With the Suns only having nine games left, all against playoff opponents, could this game propel Young further up on the depth chart?

“I like our depth chart. That shouldn’t change, but he’s different,” Vogel said of Young’s role. “That’s why we didn’t go out and get just another guy that’s the same as Drew (Eubanks) and Nurk(ić). We went out and got somebody that has a little bit of a different dynamic. I think in a next-man up setting like this, I think it helps, but if you get into a playoff series where there’s a certain matchup that we’re struggling against, you have somebody that can just give a different element to our attack. We’re excited to have him.”

Frank Vogel explains decision not to play Thaddeus Young over Drew Eubanks

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau


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