Raptors forward Thaddeus Young discusses the state of the team, why he thinks the timing of Toronto's longest road trip is good and more.
THADDEUS YOUNG: What's up, y'all? What's up, what's up?
- You've been on a few of these long trips over the years. How much do you think you guys can learn about yourselves on a tough, long West Coast trip like this?
THADDEUS YOUNG: I mean, we can learn a lot, you know, just from the simple fact of it's such a long trip-- we're going to spend a lot of time together. We get a lot of chances to fight through adversity together without all of the extra distractions of being home and stuff like that. So for us it's obviously a business trip. We just watched a film session of basically, like, you know, how well we were playing defensively last year and some of the effort plays and stuff like that, and we bring that same intensity that we had in that tape to each and every game. We put ourselves in a position to win this whole trip.
- You mentioned the distractions. I mean, given the way the season has gone, the trade deadline coming up, could this be almost like a good time to go on a trip like this?
THADDEUS YOUNG: It's a great time. It's a great time to go on the trip. You know, it's a, you know, good part of the season where, you know, I think this is something that we definitely need, you know, a lot of time together to where we can figure things out together as a team, as a family, where we're spending a lot of time together, where we're, you know, sitting down, not just watching basketball games, but, you know, we're going to be watching a football game together. You know, we're going to be doing things together. So those different, you know, team dinners and stuff like that. So those, that different environment and different feel always brings guys closer together because we learn a lot about each other.
- At that film session you just talked about, looking back at last year's defense and how good it was in the second half, how much of that is just the help?
THADDEUS YOUNG: I mean, I think it's just more so it's just effort.
THADDEUS YOUNG: You know, and that's all the way around, from, you know, when a team makes a shot, when we make a shot and we're getting back on defense, picking the ball up early and showing our high walls and our high gaps, you know, making guys see-- not see lanes as opposed to how-- it's like the Red Sea has parted sometimes-- you know, where we're getting back and everybody's in a defensive position and not standing straight up to where if a guy drives baseline, we have a base go and a guy is rotating for that guy and we're x'ing out on the weak side. Just a lot of different things. I think it's just ready basketball.
THADDEUS YOUNG: It showed that we were always in ready mode, focused mode, effort mode, you know, always willing to make the next play. And that's what we need to get back to doing.
- What do you feel is at stake here with [INAUDIBLE] long term?
THADDEUS YOUNG: I mean, a lot is at stake when you're trying to get back into the playoff hunt. And I think what, we're 11 now or something like that?
THADDEUS YOUNG: So, you know, we're trying to-- with a few games out. So we're trying to get back into the playoff mix where, you know, we'll be fighting for a play in game as of right now. But, you know, it's still a long, you know, part of the season. It's still a lot of games left before we get to all-star break. You know? So I think the biggest thing is just us just figuring out who we are as a team and getting-- well, we know who we are as a team. We just got to get back to doing it. So just figuring out how to get back to doing what we did last year.
- With Precious back, getting his legs back underneath him, what kind of boost has that given your second unit?
THADDEUS YOUNG: It gives us a big boost. I mean, any time, you know, we have a guy who was an integral part of what we do, or a big part of what we do, that goes down and then comes back, it's huge for us because those are the guys that we need in order to win basketball games. You know? He's, he's a talented individual who can go out there and be aggressive on the defensive side of basketball but also put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses.
- This is a more general NBA question, but since you've been, obviously, offenses have changed a lot this season, we're really seeing a scoring explosion, if there's one, like, area, whether it's three point shooting or something like, what, what's the biggest change you've seen in offenses?
THADDEUS YOUNG: I'd probably say the biggest change is, like, we've always shot threes for the past couple of years. You know? All the teams have. But I think, like, how they're getting the threes. Like, it's just quick threes, like, continuously. Like, all teams are trying to shoot up 50 to 60 threes, you know? And, like, that's a stat now. You know? So if we put up 50 to 60 threes, we shoot 36% from three, we should win the game. That type of stuff. So, you know, you know, so if teams are putting up those type of numbers from the three point line, I think those are the things that has pretty much kind of changed a little bit.
And then another thing is we're seeing a high volume of guys getting to the free throw line. You know, I think that's, those are the two key points and key areas of why we're seeing a lot of uptick and, you know, scoring because, you know, when you get to the free throw line, you're stopping the clock. You know? So that's three points. When you're putting up a quick three, that's two or three seconds on it, you know, that you gain to put up another three. So those different things are the reason why the game has changed a lot.
- Given the state of the kind of offensive explosion, do you think defense is becoming a bit of a lost art in terms of how hard it has become to defend in this league?
THADDEUS YOUNG: Yes.
- Is there any, like, rule changes you'd like to see? Or, like, is it just a matter of defenses catching up?
THADDEUS YOUNG: I mean, I think, you know, the biggest part is just, like, teams are putting up shots so fast and so quick to the point where you don't even get a chance sometimes to get back and play defense, you know, because the ball is being kicked up the court or, you know, guys are pushing it up and teeing it off from the logo and stuff like that.
You know, so I wouldn't say that defense has to catch up. I think, I think we just have to get set a little bit faster. And our pick up points have to be a little higher than the usual. As opposed to us picking up at the three point line like we used to, we're used to doing, we have to pick up now three or four feet above the three point line to stop guys and slow guys down from starting to break. So I think those are the things.
- Going back to what you said about team identity, that you guys know who you are based off of last year, how would you describe that identity and how far are you off of it from this year?
THADDEUS YOUNG: That identity was, I would probably say, when teams walk into Scotiabank or when teams came to play us, you know, even at their arenas, that they're like, man, shit. Like, this is going to be a hard team to play against. Like, it's going to be a tough night. Opposing teams are, you know, I think they worried about us a little bit.
Now, I think they're getting away from worrying about us a little bit and just kind of saying, hey, you know, if you do this, this, and this, you know, we'll be fine. You know? And we want to put that fear back in people's heart. You know, I think that's the biggest thing. You know, when they step into the gym with us, we want them to worry about every single thing that we're going to do on the defensive side of the basketball.
Because offense is going to be there. We're scoring enough points, you know, to win a basketball game. We're just not getting enough stops and we're not covering certain areas. You know, we're four or five possessions away, you know, and we turn those four or five possessions that we, that we, you know, had miscues on into, you know, positives for us, we win the game.
- Thad, there's been a lot of talk about, you know, what this team is supposed to be, where these team is supposed to be in the standings. As you guys try to figure it out, how important is it to, like, you put that aside and be like, hey, this is where we are now. We got to take, like, one step here and one step there.
THADDEUS YOUNG: I think we've already put that aside. You know, it is what it is at this point in the season. We are who we are. But, you know, who's to say we can't change? You know? So I think we've put that part aside where we're worrying about what people think we should be and what we think we should be, and just going out there and just playing and then letting the cards fall where they fall, you know?
But the one thing we can control is our effort, the things that we're doing out on the court. You know, obviously the coaches can't play for us. You know, Masai and Bobby can't play for us. We as a team have to go out there and we have to put our foot down.