To say the last 20 days for the Sacramento Kings have been horrible would not do it any justice.
To review, on February 14th, DeMarcus Cousins is fined one game’s pay for a locker room altercation with teammate Donte Greene.
February 21st saw the team announce that reigning rookie of the year Tyreke Evans will miss at least three weeks with plantar fasciitis.
Then, on March 3rd, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson announced that following a private meeting with the team’s owners, he feels they will move the Kings to Anaheim next season.
All of this combined for a very uncertain future to go with a present situation that includes the NBA’s second worst record.
However, with all of this negativity surrounding the team, an unexpected glimpse of hope has emerged.
Originally, not much was made of the Carl Landry trade for New Orleans Hornets shooting guard Marcus Thornton. The word on Thornton was that he was capable of becoming a dominant scorer in the league but really struggles defensively.
Last year, during Thornton’s rookie campaign, he scored 14.5 points per game, fourth best among rookies.
This year with the Hornets, Thornton saw his minutes cut from 25.6 to 16.2 and his point total fell to 7.8 per game. Reports were made that Hornets head coach Monty Williams was not satisfied with Thornton’s defensive effort, thus his minutes were cut.
Thornton saw his first action as a King against the Charlotte Bobcats on March 25. He immediately gave Sacramento a scoring threat from the guard position, which was lost when Tyreke Evans went down.
In five games with the Kings, Thornton has averaged over 21 points and is shooting over 42 % from three-point land.
Thornton played an important role in a recent game that no Kings fans will forget anytime soon. The March 28 game against the Clippers was only the teams second home sell out of the season. Sactown Royalty organized a campaign called Here We Stay, which created a sellout in hopes to show the teams owners their team is still wanted by Sacramento.
The game was close as the fourth quarter began and with the King’s problems closing out games they needed someone to carry it home. Thornton was that guy, scoring 16 of his 29 points in the fourth to give his team a comfortable lead in the final minutes.
“I credit my teammates for finding me,” Thornton said after the game. “The guys here are so unselfish and it’s easy to play with those kind of guys.”
Coach Paul Westphal has been pleasantly surprised with what Thornton brings to the Kings.
“Marcus Thornton is fitting in pretty well, we were running plays for him that we don’t even have,” said Westphal. “He’s going to be a vital part of our team as we go forward. He is showing that he can be a player you can build with.”
Even with the emergence of a new scoring threat, the win against the Clippers is the only victory since Thornton’s arrival.
Although Thornton’s excellent play has not helped the team in the win column, it does show that the franchise is attempting to move in the right direction.
Even if that overall direction is south to Anaheim, the Kings continue to fill in the pieces surrounding their bright young future, Evans and Cousins.
Article courtesy of Hoops Addict.
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