Thaddeus Young said it wouldn't last. And it hasn't.
The 76ers' second-year wing led the team in scoring after 10 games. Going into last night's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was No. 4 (13.6) behind Elton Brand (16.7), Andre Miller (15.5) and Andre Iguodala (14.2).
He knows why, too: He has become part of the opponents' game plan.
"They've pretty much been picking and choosing where they're to double," Young said. "Because of that, I haven't been getting as many open looks. I've been forced to try to take guys off the dribble, and I've been passing it off a little bit more."
He became a different part of his own team's game plan last night, when coach Maurice Cheeks started Willie Green at shooting guard and brought Young off the bench, moving Andre Iguodala from shooting guard to small forward. The switch was made to try to keep Iguodala and Young as fresh as possible as they attempted to defend LeBron James, the NBA's No. 2 scorer.
Young responded with 6 points on 2-for-9 shooting in 27 minutes.
Cheeks did not phrase the switch this way, but it was clearly just a strategic decision, in no way a demotion for Young.
"When 'Dre [Iguodala] goes out, we're a little short," said Young, who added five rebounds. "I'm the next guy in line, so we can't have both of us in the game at the same time."
As for his defensive strategy, Young said, "Basically, you try to limit his catches, and you know that's going to be hard, because the whole offense goes through him."
Earlier in the season, Young - easily the team's most improved player from last season - was getting good looks from the wing and the baseline. He took advantage of the opportunities, having worked with shooting instructor Mark Price during the summer.
"Now, when I go the corner, I hear guys yelling, 'Don't leave him, he's a good shooter,' " Young said.
When opponents double-team Brand or Iguodala, it has become less likely that the second defender is sagging off Young.
The result: In the first 10 games, Young hit 13 of 33 three-pointers. He was 0-for-2 last night, dropping him to 7-for-30 in his previous 12 games, 2-for-14 in his last five.
"I'm definitely looking to get in a zone, but I'm also looking to get my teammates into the game," Young said.
West gets the point
Delonte West, the former Saint Joseph's University star, made his 22nd straight start at the point for the Cavs last night, scoring nine points and doing his part in their best-ever 19-3 start.
West came into the game averaging 11.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.24 steals in 32.7 minutes, shooting 47.2 percent from the floor, including 41.1 from three-point distance.
West, in his fifth NBA season, was the guard playing next to Player of the Year Jameer Nelson in St. Joe's remarkable 27-0 regular season in 2003-04, then became a first-round draft choice of the Boston Celtics.
He appeared in 35 games last season with the then-Seattle SuperSonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder), and 26 with the Cavs, where he stepped in immediately as a starter.
"I've never enjoyed - not just winning - playing basketball as much as I do right now," West said. "It's fun to come to work every day. Guys like coming to practice. Guys practice hard. I've never been with a bunch of guys who enjoy coming to work as much. You've seen the results of hard work. It's basketball at its best." *