Saturday, February 22, 2014

What Does Marcus Thornton Bring to the Table?

The Brooklyn Nets failed to address their rebounding and interior defensive woes at the trade deadline, but they did fill another need: guard depth. On Wednesday, Nets general manager dumped the two players at the end of the bench for a player who figures to make an immediate impact in Marcus Thornton.

Thornton, 26, adds some much-needed youth and vitality to Brooklyn's backcourt. He also ensures that Marquis Teague will likely not play much henceforth and his joining the team may also mean that Alan Anderson, who played just four minutes in Wednesday's win over the Utah Jazz, will sit more.

Drafted 43rd overall in 2009, Thornton began his career in New Orleans before moving on to the Sacramento Kings, where he assumed a big role midway through the 2010-11 season by putting up 21.3 points per game in 38 minutes. The next season, he put up 18.3 points in 35 minutes. The season after that, though, Thornton was moved to a bench role and his minutes were cut by more than 10 per game: since the 2012-13 season, Thornton has only played 24.2 minutes per game. As a result, his output has been diminished: he's averaging about 10 points per contest since being benched.

Though he will not return to a starting role in Brooklyn, he gets out of a bad situation in Sacramento where he was basically an afterthought on a terrible team. In Brooklyn, Thornton gets the chance to be mentored by some of the game's greats and will almost definitely be utilized in a more productive way.

At 6'4", Thornton's game is based mostly on his shooting. He becomes a good fit on this Brooklyn squad, which has looked all season like a pass-first team. He's another scoring threat off the bench, taking some of that burden off of Andray Blatche. Known as a bit of a heat check guy, Thornton is a deep threat and should be able to provide a spark off the bench and is a candidate to win some quarters for the Nets.

Thornton's defense is, to put it bluntly, pretty bad – he's not going to help out with the tendency for Brooklyn's defense to collapse when Kevin Garnett is not playing – but he does help to form a more cohesive second unit. If head coach Jason Kidd can clearly define to Thornton his role in the second unit, something coaches never did for him in Sacramento, he'll be in a good position to succeed.

The move to Brooklyn represents a great opportunity for Thornton. He has never played for a winning team; despite the Nets' many troubles this season, his current squad is the best one he's ever played for. In Sacramento, he's had to put up with DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Isiah Thomas – all of whom have usage percentages over 26% (Cousins leads the league at 41%). In Brooklyn, he'll be playing with guys who will actually give him the ball and let him shoot.

The Nets hope that Thornton can make his debut tonight against the Golden State Warriors, but the team received some unfortunate news this afternoon:
On the season, Thornton is averaging just 8.2 points on 38% shooting in 24 minutes per game. Both Thornton and the Nets hope that the change of scenery will do the "Bayou Bomber," as he's called, some good.

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