Thaddeus Young sat down with several of his new Bulls teammates yesterday at Summer League.
And if you ignore all the talk about Kris Dunn being traded, Cristiano Felicio sitting on a fat check he doesn’t deserve and the fact that the only legitimate role player present is LaVine … this almost feels like a nice team-bonding experience!
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) July 9, 2019
Young has appeared to fully embrace his new gig with the Chicago Bulls, something that was made especially evident after he spoke with media for the first time yesterday.
RANDOM NOTE: It’s funny, you can always tell when a player has his first media moment with a new team, due to the load of stories that are shipped out the next morning. Not to mention, every story shares practically the same quotes, so while all these articles are just fine (I love all my Bulls articles the same… but not really), I’ll just link to the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson’s.
Considering he will be the oldest player on the Bulls roster this season (31-years-old), Young will be expected to step into a pretty big leadership position. Fortunately, that’s nothing he can’t handle. As I’ve mentioned time and again, Young has repeatedly been praised around the league for his impact off the court. He’s known as a strong leader, one that can work well with young, developing groups (something he did in his last two stops of Minnesota and Indiana).
With that said, Young will arguably have his greatest challenge yet with the Bulls. But based on what he’s told reporters, he already knows what to do.
“It starts by not getting tired of the grind, not getting tired of the competitive nature,” Young said. “A lot of guys, they tend to get tired of the competitive nature, of coming to practices each and every day and playing over and over. But when you do those same things over and over, it helps you get better as a team, and it helps you win more games as a team. We just have to continue to keep that grind, continue to stay focused on the task at hand, which is winning basketball games, and hopefully we get to the playoffs.”
The most encouraging takeaway from Young’s statements is that everything, for him, is going to be about the team. The guy has been officially on the roster for less than a week and he is already using “we,” sometimes even when talking about last season. A great example of this selfless approach came when he talked about fellow teammate, Zach LaVine. He first played with LaVine during his rookie season in Minnesota, and says since that time the shooting guard has really learned a lot.
“We know he’s our guy,” Young said. “He’s going to be the guy going forward. My thing is, just go out there and harness those skills, continue to be the leader that I am, continue to help him get better as a leader, get better as a player, and hopefully help him make the All-Star Game.”
How could you not love to hear that from a teammate? One thing I was most curious to learn was how Young would feel about his new role on the bench (a safe assumption with Otto Porter one the roster), but, again, he took that with stride. Young pointed out that players always like to start, but he called it “no big deal” and just said you have to come off the bench and get your “Lou Will on” (he’s referring to three-time six-man of the year Lou Williams).
Yup, this guy is awesome. Coming across players like this can be rare in today’s league, and with a rebuilding franchise, Young’s mindset could do wonders. Finally, to leave you even more pumped up, I present this:
“I’ve taken on that role as a leader and helping shape and build a culture,” Young said. “In Philly, I was there at the start of the Process. We had a horrible season, but I went out there and played my butt off each and every night. It was like bringing a knife to a gunfight, but at the end of the day, I was swinging with that knife. So I’ve been in those situations before. I understand those situations. I know the task is very, very hard. I carry that weight each and every day. I know I can help these young guys get better, I know I can push them over the hump.”
If you want to learn even more on Young, I recommend you go read The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry’s story. The article shares a lot of the same quotes, but he also speaks with a former coach and teammate of Young’s about his impact.