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?
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.