In midst of career year, Thaddeus Young making greatest strides on glass

NEW YORK -- Rather quietly, Brooklyn Nets power forward Thaddeus Young has turned into a highly potent double-double machine of late -- going for 18-11, 25-14, 20-12 and 18-11 in his last four games. Nevertheless, despite being in the midst of the best season of his career, the nine-year pro prefers to be modest about his success.

“I’m just playing basketball,” Young, who has never been an All-Star, said Friday. “Just playing off my teammates. Just feeding off their energy. They put me in a position to be successful -- or, as I call it, they’re setting the table for me to eat.”

Fair enough, but through the first 22 games of the 2015-16 campaign, Young, 27, is averaging 16.2 points, a career-best 9.1 rebounds and shooting 52.8 percent from the field.

Maybe those aren’t All-Star numbers. If not, they’re awfully close. After all, Young ranks 25th among all Eastern Conference players in PER -- 11 spots behind frontcourt mate Brook Lopez. Still, he’s been making his impact felt -- especially on the backboard, where he’s never averaged more than 7.5 rebounds per game (2012-13).

“I think it’s just about wanting it, who wants the ball more -- and that’s just how I approach every game,” Young said of his rebounding prowess.

“I know I can score from 10 to 20 points in a game, (but) let’s see if I can grab at least 10 to 15 rebounds. And that’s been a case each and every game -- the more rebounds I can get, the more possessions we can get, which helps my team win games.”

Young is rebounding at a high rate despite standing just 6-foot-8 -- small for a power forward.

“It has nothing to do with, size, really,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said, dismissing the premise. “Charles Barkley was 6-6 and he was the best rebounder in the game. It’s timing, it’s being in the right spot, and it’s going after them.

“We used to have a saying about Charles Barkley and A.C. Green. Somebody said, ‘Oh, A.C. Green’s a great rebounder. He may be better than Charles.’ The quote was, ‘A.C. Green goes after every rebound, Charles gets every rebound he goes after.’ So you take yours, the guy that goes after every one but doesn’t get every one, or the guy that goes after the ones he gets. Charles was averaging 12 rebounds a game -- because he probably could’ve averaged 16 if he went after more.

“But I just think that he’s just playing well. This is a great season. He has a better feel for us as a team, me as a coach, and what works for him. And he’s stayed within it.”

For Young, that has meant less outside play and more inside play. In fact, according to NBA.com, he has taken 223 of his 307 field goal attempts (72.6 percent) from less than eight feet away.

“I’m just by sticking to my game, which is trying to dominate the paint, getting out in transition, playing a little bit quicker and just using my strengths instead of going to my weaknesses,” Young said. “One of the biggest things was your percentages go down when you shoot a ton of jump shots. I want to be able to put a ton of pressure on opposing teams by owning the paint, dominating in the paint, just making a living in the paint.”