With his rookie year behind him, Thaddeus Young approached this summer with a clearer image of what he had to do.
"Last summer I was just one of the guys getting my feet wet," Young said by phone from Las Vegas where the Sixers are fielding a summer league team. "Now I have to go out there and try to lead my team, I have to be a leader on the court. I have to do a lot of other things as far as handling the ball more and talking to the guys and teaching them some things."
Young is one of three players on the Sixers' entry who will definitely be in the league in the fall. The others are fellow second-year player Jason Smith and rookie Marreese Speights who was chosen with the 16th pick overall in June's draft.
At 20, Young is the most veteran among them after working his way into solid minutes by the end of last season. That experience has given him a foundation to build on, given him a blueprint to where he has to go.
"I'm definitely much more aggressive now and I know certain ways to get to the lane and get fouled," Young said. "I know a lot of other things as far as just going out there and just playing the game. I'm actually able to think the game out rather than just playing it."
That was one of his goals heading into the summer. So was improving his shooting and ball handling. Both are a work in progress.
In the team's first game last Friday, a loss to Golden State, Young went 10-for-20 from the field and 6-for-10 from the free-throw line with six rebounds. But he also had five turnovers. The next night, he shot just 7-for-21 from the floor and was 8-for-12 at the foul line with four rebounds, three assists and four turnovers.
"I didn't shoot the ball well our last game, but the game before that I was shooting pretty good," Young said. "I think it was because I wasn't getting my legs under my shot the last game and I was a little tired. But now we've had two days off, we're back at it again and I think I'll be fine (Tuesday night)."
Last year, Young played primarily at power forward where he had to use his quickness to offset the size and strength of most of his opponents. This season, the addition of Elton Brand will likely see Young moving to small forward, his natural position.
"It helps me help my teammates a lot," he said. "I can go out there and play the three now and I can do a lot of stuff off the dribble and pass the ball a bit more. I don't have to go down there and score it, but I can rebound for a three so that's gonna help us out a lot."
And though it means change for him, he welcomed the addition of Brand.
"I was very enthused about it," he said. "I was yelling at Jason and Marreese, 'Man, we just got so much better now.'
"I've been watching him for four years now. I know he's a great low-post scorer. He can rebound the ball and he's very aggressive. He's a bit undersized, but he still goes out there and gets the job done."
Talks continue between the Sixers and guard Lou Williams' agent, Merle Scott, but no deal is imminent for the restricted free agent.
"It's progressing," Scott said of talks. "They've got several things they're trying to juggle what with signing Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala's situation. It's not as simple as just agreeing and getting it done."
Scott said Williams has drawn interest from several teams, but that Williams is not in the top tier of free agents out there, so most teams will wait to see how it plays out with what Scott called the A-list guys like Brand, Baron Davis, Iguodala and James Posey.
There's also the restricted part. If a team makes an offer to Williams, the Sixers have seven days to match the offer or let Williams go.
"It ties up their money for a matter a time," Scott said.
G.M. Ed Stefanski said in a recent e-mail that the Sixers intend to match any offers for Williams or Iguodala.
Which is fine with Scott's client.