Marcus Thornton will come off the bench this season.

Marcus Thornton is getting the Ben Gordon treatment

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Marcus Thornton proved to be one of the most exciting scoring rookies last season. He’s a significant part of the Hornets’ hopes to rebuild themselves into a playoff team (and keep CP3 from bolting for greener pastures). So obviously they’re going to feature him prominently and have him lining up beside Chris Paul in the starting five, right? Not so much. The New Orleans Times Picayune reports the following from head coach Monty Williams:

“I like Marcus off the bench and he’s done a good job of buying into that,’’ Williams said. “I think he can be valuable to us with the firepower off the bench. You look at good teams around the league they got guys coming off the bench that can change the game. I told him it’s not who starts all the time, but if you can finish games is just as important.’’

Okay, then, not so much with the starting. Williams is right. This isn’t a reflection on Thornton, or if it is, it’s in the positive. Being the focal point of the offense off the bench can be more important than a fourth option in the starting five. A good comparison is Manu Ginobili. Ginobili plays long minutes and finishes games despite a traditional sixth man role. Thornton has an opportunity to provide a similar set of assets for the Hornets.

Hey, isn’t new GM Dell Demps coming from the Spurs system?

Small world.

Thornton has to be considered a top candidate for Sixth Man this year. The Hornets don’t have a ton of scoring options, and with Thornton averaging 20.3 points and over 4 rebounds per 36 minutes, and due for an increase in minutes, he’s going to be right at the top of the list. The real question is going to be if Marco Belinelli can make it as a starter. That’s quite a jump for a guy who’s never been put in that position for a contending team.

PBT Extra bold prediction: Is this Andrew Wiggins’ breakout season?

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Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.

Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.

Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.

Derrick Rose being back for start of season in question

Fred Hoiberg, Derrick Rose
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The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.

The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).

So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.

The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.

“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.

“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”

Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)

Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.

And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.

Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.