Obviously, they also believed in his on-court talent, but when the Chicago Bulls brought veteran Thaddeus Young into the organization over the offseason, this sort of leadership is probably a big part of what they had in mind (via The Athletic):
“I hate harping on what we did with Indiana,”Young told his teammates after their third-consecutive loss. “But we felt like each and every game when we walked into the game, we were going to kick somebody’s ass. That’s how we have to approach the game and treat the game. But if it’s one or two guys who don’t feel that way, then it’s not going to work out.”
The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry shared the quote in his postgame recap of the Bulls 117-111 loss the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he also noted that Young stood up in the locker room to make himself heard – and thank goodness he did.
If the Bulls have lacked one thing through their first five games of the 2019-20 season, it’s been discipline. When the waves of crunch time hit, Chicago has fallen flat on its face and received a mouthful of sand. It’s a bad taste. We’re only in the second week of the NBA season and the Bulls have three losses on the board against some of the worst teams in the NBA. Even more disappointing: they’ve held a lead in the 4th quarter during each one of those games.
The fans are fed up. Thaddeus Young is fed up.
He’s not wrong to compare the Bulls to his former Indiana Pacers team. Plenty of young talent filled that squad, and while the Bulls might not be a small-city team, their organization has sure felt like one. From an outside perspective, Young’s words make it sound like certain players aren’t bought in. And if the Bulls want to finally lift themselves out of this rebuild, it’s not going to take an All-Star or All-NBA player (well it will, but still), it’s going to take a successful team effort.
And to be fair, Young has backed up his words on the court. Not only has he been one of the most consistent, methodical players for the Bulls over these past five games, but last night he dropped 14 points, shooting 6-14 while grabbing five boards and a steal. He was also one of only three players on the team to have a positive plus-minus by the end of the night.
On the season, Young is shooting second-best from the field (48 percent) and second-best from behind the arc (39.1 percent). He’s held up his end of the bargain.
I don’t know if Young can turn this team around, it might be his greatest challenge yet. However, I will say it’s somewhat reassuring to know the Bulls have someone on and off the court that isn’t going to grow complacent with losing.
Only four players on the Bulls roster have ever experienced a winning season, which means 76.5 percent of this team has never truly experienced what it takes to win at the highest level (also one of those four is Cristiano Felicio in his first season with the Bulls … sooo). When that’s the case, oftentimes, players can grow immune to its effects. And it certainly doesn’t help when the two players the Bulls are relying most, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen, have never gotten a taste of the playoffs.
Young brings a winning culture and vibe to a team that desperately needs one. Unfortunately, one man isn’t enough.