Young's veteran savvy didn't have much impact for Bulls

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Bulls' Otto Porter Jr. (22) celebrates with teammates Coby White (0) and Thaddeus Young (21) during a March 2 game. The Bulls signed Young to provide some much-needed veteran leadership. For most of the season, though, he took a back seat to Lauri Markkanen late in games.

    Bulls' Otto Porter Jr. (22) celebrates with teammates Coby White (0) and Thaddeus Young (21) during a March 2 game. The Bulls signed Young to provide some much-needed veteran leadership. For most of the season, though, he took a back seat to Lauri Markkanen late in games. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/16/2020 7:15 PM

Sixth in a series

The Bulls needed an experienced veteran on the roster, so last summer they signed power forward Thaddeus Young.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It was a pretty good get, since Young had been a starter on a playoff team in Indiana the previous two seasons. But they didn't put him in position to affect the win column.

The problem with adding Young is he plays the same position as Lauri Markkanen. For Young to be on the floor late in games, coach Jim Boylen had to either sit Markkanen or play him at center. Boylen tried that a few times and was always peppered with questions after the game about impeding Markkanen's development.

So it was a constant Catch-22 early in the season. Maybe the Bulls would do better with Young on the floor late in games, but wasn't Markkanen one of the team's most important rebuilding blocks?

For his part, Young never really complained about his plight and didn't ask to be traded to a contender. He talked about wanting to play more minutes, but that's a common theme in the NBA.

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Young seemed to accept the fact that he took more money -- $32.6 million guaranteed over three years -- to join the Bulls than he would have gotten from a contending team. The Pacers were ready to move on and push Domantas Sabonis into Young's old starting role, and Sabonis responded with his first all-star appearance.

One of Young's best attributes is his durability and he missed just one game this season for personal reasons. His production (10. 3 points, 4.9 rebounds) was similar to recent seasons, per minutes played.

Young finally got a chance to join the starting lineup on Jan. 24 when Markkanen was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his pelvis. The early results were promising. After a loss to Sacramento, the Bulls beat Cleveland and San Antonio, then nearly delivered the only three-game win streak of the season by beating Indiana.

But like a lot of other things in this Bulls season, the three-game win streak didn't work out. Victor Oladipo drained a long 3-pointer to tie the game, the referees didn't call an obvious foul against Zach LaVine and the Bulls lost to the Pacers in overtime.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Two days later in Brooklyn, Young took a charge on the game's first possession, fell backward and struck teammate Kris Dunn's knee. It was a freak accident, but Dunn was done for the season and the Bulls lost eight in a row.

So the Bulls never really got to figure out if Young finishing games would have led to more wins. The problem was, after Otto Porter's foot injury, there wasn't another veteran on the Bulls roster.

Then looking at the advanced stats, Young was second-worst on the team in plus-minus (ahead of Chandler Hutchison) and third-worst in net rating (beating Hutchison and Cristiano Felicio).

Young has been an undersized power forward throughout his career who usually has a speed advantage on his opponent. He's better at running the floor than grabbing rebounds, an area where the Bulls need more help. He shot 35.6 percent from 3-point range, which is on the high side for his career, but not good enough to help the Bulls, a poor 3-point shooting team.

So maybe Young wouldn't have helped the Bulls win more games even if he'd played more. If nothing changes, they'll head into next season with another logjam at power forward and shortage of reliable veterans.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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