By Cory Bernstein
Why we want him: Marcus Thornton is a truly elite scorer. One of the most underrated players in the entire NBA, and this is backed up by any stat imaginable. Thornton had a very impressive 16.52 PER last year, better than shooting guards like Joe Johnson and James Harden. Although Thornton only averaged 12.8 points per game, he notched 21.3 points a game after his trade to the Kings in February.
For a player whose greatest strength is his ability to attack the rim, Thornton has a ridiculously low turnover ratio of 8.3. Smart-alecks like me would read that and say "Anthony Morrow has a turnover rate of 6.8, so that's a huge decrease!”, but there's a catch. Guys like Morrow, James Jones, and Kyle Korver always lead the league in this stat, as the main thing they do on offense is stand behind the arc and shoot threes, so they rarely turn the ball over. For a slasher like Thornton to turn the ball over so little shows that he has great control of his body and knows when to pick his spots.
Thornton is not a bad defender, something that cannot be said about the rest of the guards on the Kings. By no means is he Landry Fields, but Thornton is a solid rebounder, notching nearly four a game and having a better rebounding rate than Brook Lopez. Thornton has no glaring flaws in his game, something that Anthony Morrow and The Machine certainly had of the defensive side of the ball. But, he is not an Omar Infante jack-of-all-trades but a master-of-none type, as he has the elite skill of driving to the rim. Thornton is young and can be given a long contract, as he won't see 24 until this Sunday.
Why we don't: There's not much to put here. If the Kings take a point guard like Kemba Walker, Sacramento may try to build around Kemba, with Thornton playing shooting guard and Tyreke Evans as the small forward. But, the Maloofs are as broke as your average Real World cast member so this isn’t an issue. Thornton is only 6'4 and not a great athlete, so he may struggle defensively with the bigger shooting guards like Joe Johnson. He did score less than ten points a game for a large part of this year with the Hornets, but that can be largely attributed to the 16.2 minutes per game he played this year when with New Orleans.
Final Verdict: Marcus Thornton should be the top target of potential free agent signees for the Nets this season. He is good at everything the Nets stunk at this year, namely getting the ball into the basket. He has struggled on teams like New Orleans, where they have an abundance of scorers. But, Thornton would fit wonderfully with the Nets. He could take a significant amount of shots as the "third banana" to Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. The LSU graduate would start at shooting guard, and probably will not cost as much as a player of his caliber should. Him and Morrow compliment each other well on the wings, as one is an exceptional three-point shooter, while one can get to the rim like few in the NBA. If John Hollinger teaches us anything, he is a very efficient player, something the Nets sorely needed from the wing positions this year. Marcus Thornton may not be a big name, but if he joins the New Jersey Nets, Deron Williams and fans alike will be thrilled with his play.
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