MINNEAPOLIS - Thaddeus Young rarely was far away from a smile during his time in Philadelphia. So as he endured the 26-game losing streak last season and heard rumors he wouldn't be with the organization much longer, it was easy to read that it was all getting to him. Basketball, for the first time in his life, became a job, more than just supplying the fun and enjoyment it had before.
As expected, he was dealt last summer and all the instability his career had in Philly, which included five coaches, numerous teammates and several changes to what he was asked to do on the court, moved to Minnesota.
His smile is back. He thinks he has some stability in an organization that, like the Sixers, is very young but possesses some real strong possibilities of stardom, most notably, rookie Andrew Wiggins. He knows all too well what is going on with his former team, as he endured 26 straight losses a season ago.
"I feel for some of those guys, but also, change will come," he said. "They have good pieces. They have a lot of young guys. Right now, it's just about building for the future for that organization. Hopefully, it's sooner than later, but right now they're going through their bumps and bruises.
You don't want to be in that situation where you're losing a lot of games. It's tough. But at the end of the day, you just have to keep continuing to play. That's what I did, continued to play, continued to remain focused, continue to stay a leader."
Amazingly, he did just that, each and every night. He led by example and, in the hopes of Sixers coach Brett Brown, made a lasting impression.
"I look back at my experience with Thaddeus, Spencer [Hawes] and Evan [Turner], especially, because the tom-toms were beating that they weren't going to be with us and with me," Brown said. "And yet they still gave tremendous effort and they dealt with it like professionals, and they're good people. Probably the first thing I think of when I think of Thaddeus is he's just a good human being - a great family guy, a good person. And for him to go through the whole duration of that 26-game losing streak and not blink and never really go AWOL and still maintain a leadership focus, knowing that it was rumored, and it ended up true, not to be a part of it, I've got a tremendous amount of respect for him."
Young, still dealing with the death of his mother last month, believes lessons can still be learned by a young group that is experiencing losing at an alarming rate.
"You can go through it and you can continue to play as hard as I did," he said. "It just makes you better as a person and a player. That was the biggest thing for me, just staying focused for the whole time. I could have put my shoes up and just said I was done. But I continued to fight, I continued to play and continued to go out there and do everything that I said I would do.
"I'll look and see how some of the young guys are doing, like Tony Wroten and Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens [Noel], because those are guys that came into the league, and I was one of the guys that tried to help them through some of the tough times. I just want to kind of see them fill themselves out and continue to play."
Nerlens Noel was back in the starting lineup after missing Monday's game with a hip pointer. However, Tony Wroten was still out with a sprained knee and Alexey Shved, who had scored 18 points, then 19 the past two games, was out with a hip flexor.
"There's still a little tightness and pain, but it feels a lot better than it did a couple of days ago, so I'm feeling good," Noel said.