Thad Young on Scottie Barnes’ defence creating offence and Will Barton

Raptors forward Thad Young discusses the NBA’s scheduling format, the keys to Scottie Barnes maintaining his aggression throughout games and how he knows Will Barton.

Video Transcript

- That you can relate to even a little bit better than some of these young guys?

THAD YOUNG: Yeah, I mean, I've known Will for years now. Him playing at the University of Memphis and training together, and some workouts and stuff like that in the summers and stuff like that, playing pick up and all that stuff. So I've built a relationship and a connection. Then, like, our AAU teams battled against each other for the last couple of years. We actually beat his team in the UA finals a couple of years ago. So definitely I'm very familiar with him, him as a player. He's definitely going to help us.

He's a tremendous player that can go out there and score, facilitate, and make plays, and that's great for us. And then he has that veteran savviness that we need.

- What's it like-- you came into this team midway through last season. Did you share advice for him on getting acclimated?

THAD YOUNG: Yeah, we've been talking we've been talking the whole time just trying to get him acclimated. Just telling him like, yeah, it's going to be tough when you're coming in because he's going to play multiple positions. So, for him, he's going to have to learn probably the one through three spot, and those are the toughest positions, like, within our offense and our flow.

So it's a lot of stuff to take in. And that's how last year I was. Because when I first came in, I had to learn literally one through five.

- But isn't the defense harder to learn?

THAD YOUNG: I mean, I don't the defense is hard to learn. As long as we keep it simple and we keep our principles, then I think we're fine. And I think the principle aspect of it is the easier part for him. The offensive standpoint is, like, there are so many rotational pieces and so many pieces that move to different positions, that's the hard part. Because he has to learn, OK, if I'm on the court with Pascal, Pascal is going to probably be the three. Or if I'm on the court with Gary, Gary it might be the two and I might be the three.

So those are the things that he has to be conscious of and he has to understand from a positional standpoint.

- How impactful do you think Gary can be off the bench?

THAD YOUNG: Huge. This could be huge. I mean, he's huge for us in any capacity when he steps on the court. He shoots the ball very well. He plays defense. He makes sure that his presence is felt on the court. He's always moving without the basketball. And I think those are key things for us. So bringing him off the bench, it just adds another layer to what we need coming off the bench behind the starters.

- How much does having Jakob as the starting center clarify everyone else's role?

THAD YOUNG: It clarifies it a lot. I mean, having such a big body out there that can man the paint for us on both sides of the basketball is huge. Plus, he's a really good passer as well, so he really gets us in sync. He kind of flows and puts all the pieces together. And we all play off him very, very well.

- Thad, in teams like this where you're kind of like on the cusp, this upcoming stretch of games are very crucial. What's the difference between teams that succeed in getting that playoff push and teams that just miss it?

THAD YOUNG: The ones who impose their will on the game early. We're getting into the latter part of the season where some of the calls that we were getting at the beginning of the season, we're not going to get now. So we have to be a little bit more physical. We have to be a little bit more aggressive. We have to make sure we're imposing our will on both sides of the basketball more than the other team, and I think that's what's going to help us.

- You've seen guys over the course of your career moving from a starting role to a bench role, and some can do it and some can't. Does Gary got that mindset?

THAD YOUNG: I mean, we'll see. We'll definitely see. But, you know, I think--

- He kind of did it this year already, like for 10 games.

THAD YOUNG: Yeah. I think he-- I mean, I think he does. I think it's just a different way to approach the game. Now you're getting a first class seat to see how you're going to work yourself into the game as opposed to trying to work yourself in the game from the get go. And I think that actually helps a lot.

- How close can a two-game series against Washington come to something like a playoff feel in terms of guys are playing the same team back to back, and you're in this playoff fight with them?

THAD YOUNG: I think that's one of the best things that the league has done this year, is put teams to where we can play them back to back. I think that gives us the best playoff feel before the actual playoffs start. Because you're preparing for win team as opposed to preparing for another the next night and another the following night. So, for us, you get to see what the team's going to do, and then you get to see what adjustments that we make and what adjustments that they make.

- Having been through a few of them now this year, how tough is it to be able to win both?

THAD YOUNG: That's the toughest part. That's the toughest part. The toughest part is the same facts that I just said, they're thinking the same exact thing. Like, you know, what adjustments are they going to make? Oh, they did this? We're going to do this now. And that's what makes the game so tough, and that's what makes games so hard. But, for us, like I said, it's always going to piggyback off us putting our will into the game and our force upon the other team.

- Thad, you were brought in last year. Besides what you bring on the court to help the young guys come along and off the court in their approach and all of that, what have you seen improve or change from maybe this time last year versus this time this year in these games coming up?

THAD YOUNG: I think all the guys have had, like, really good production. Chris has gotten better. I think Precious has gotten better with imposing his will athletically on the game, and then understanding time and score. Obviously guys are going to get out of character sometimes, and that happens throughout the course of game even with me. But I think both of those guys have done a really good job of just imposing their will on the game for what they do and what they are as players.

You look at guys like Malachi. He's came off-- every time he's came off into games, he's gave us a slight spark, whether he's making shots or he's initiating offense and getting us into something. So guys are getting better and guys are understanding the game and the process a little bit more than they did last year.

And then Scottie is always going to be phenomenal. I think the biggest thing with Scottie is-- like from me talking to him-- is just him imposing his will on the game from an energy side on the defensive side. Defense is going to lead to his offense, and it always does. And every time he plays great defense, you see a stellar game out of him on the offensive end.