Posted by: Kingsguru21 | March 24, 2011

Marcus Thornton is proving to be quite the valuable mirror

When I wrote my analysis of the trade made at the deadline, I was rather disappointed that the Kings didn’t go after Courtney Lee. However, now, I’m rather happy the Kings did the Landry-Thornton deal.

2 reasons. One, Thornton takes shots that the Kings need him to take. Two, he takes shots away from Beno Udrih that makes Beno more effective. (Beno is generally best when not jacking up shots all game.)

Now, at the All-Star break I had a post about offensive efficiency for each team and why the Kings need more efficient offensive players. Well, Marcus Thornton, after 15 games granted, is leading the Kings in TS% on the season. With only 12 games left on the regular season docket, it stands to reason that either Beno Udrih or Marcus Thornton will end up leading the team in that department. Why is this important? That’s 1 more above average efficient offensive player that the Kings didn’t have before. Carl Landry, for what he was and wasn’t, was not that efficient over the season (although leading up to the AS break had been closer to his more efficient self showed in Houston), and didn’t seem to create shots for other players on the Kings either.

That’s where Thornton has impressed me. He flashes to the open spot. He opens up passing angles for other players. He shoots from the outside on a team desperate for outside shooting. He plays hard and loves to shoot the ball.

You know what the most impressive thing to me has been? How well Thornton has played across the board.

Games Minutes Played FGA 3PA FTA FG% 3P% FT% AST’s STL’s
New Orleans Total 46 745 334 93 66 41% 37.6% 75.8% 43 19
Sacramento Total 15 543 246 76 72 48% 43.4% 80.6% 51 27
New Orleans Per Game 46 16.2 7.3 2 1.4 41% 37.6% 75.8% .9 .4
Sacramento Per Game 15 36.2 16.4 5.1 4.8 48% 43.4% 80.6% 3.4 1.8

Now I left Turnovers off the table in part because it wouldn’t fit and because I wanted to illustrate a few breakdown’s of why I consider it to be just as important in the next table (as opposed to including it in this table). Now to the more “advanced” stats available:

PER USG% TS% eFG% TOV% ORtg DRtg ORB% DRB% Win Shares Per 48 Minutes
New Orleans 14 25.6% 49.4% 46.3% 9.2% 99 105 4.1% 17.1% .064
Sacramento 20.8 24.7 58.9% 54.7% 10% 117 109 2.7% 9.6% .165

I want to say a few things about these 2 tables. Ignoring PER (as I’m not fond of it), I wanted to include it anyway as it illustrates (what I could with everything else) that Thornton in his 15 games as a Sacramento King has played better than at any time he has as a PROFESSIONAL basketball player.

Marcus Thornton already has surpassed his New Orleans Total in Free Throw Attempts, will eventually have more Free Throw makes as a King than attempted with the Hornets, steals, 3 point FG%, FG% (which is what TS% is made up of–and another reason why this has gone up so much), TS%, eFG% (which is FG% and 3ptFG% with more weight added to the percentage of 3pt FG’s when figuring those as part of the total), Offensive and Defensive Rating (remember all this means is points per 100 possessions), and Win Shares/Win Shares per 48 minutes (I put Win Shares per 48 minutes in the table as I felt it would be a more eye popping than the difference between 1.9 & 1 for those not familiar with how Win Shares work–look at Carl Landry to see a comparison).

Thornton is playing great basketball at the moment, and it’s shown in many area’s. He’s not perfect, and he’s not necessarily going to be an All-Star either. What he is is a streak shooter (or just a great shooter?) that has shot pretty consistently and been active to boot. The only area’s that have seen drops for Thornton are his O/DReb% and TOV%. With regards to rebounding, I think that’s more a factor of New Orleans bench not being particularly great at rebounding and the limited minutes Thornton consistently saw there. With Sacramento, rebounding (especially offensively) is not a problem. As far as the increased DRtg, the Kings play at a much faster pace than New Orleans does and that accounts, I think anyway, for the increases in both ORtg and DRtg. The difference, naturally, is that Thornton’s difference between ORtg and DRtg for the Kings is positive as opposed to negative for the Hornets.

As far as the Turnover’s, what impresses me is that despite the heavy increase in shot attempts (but not usage), and the increased amount of Free Throw attempts, there has not been an excessive amount of TO’s. Assuming Thornton had played this kind of minutes all season, you would assuredly see him on this list.

He would be top 10 in lowest TOV%, TS%, ORtg, and about top 15 in USG% or so. With Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins around.

I hope you haven’t been sucked in to the Kyrie Irving show (he of the 8 regular season NCAA games and 2 NCAA tournament games with another coming Thursday) because it seems to me everything Irving does (shoot, pass, score) Thornton does already.

Ladies and gentleman, please meet the 3rd best player and 2nd most important offensive player (behind Tyreke and Cuz for best player–assuming Cuz gets there) and 2nd or 3rd best offensive player (again behind Tyreke & Cuz). By the way, Thornton turns 24 years old next year. Not quite the old man if I may say so.

Because even if Thornton is not a great defender, passer, or rebounder (he has shown abilities to do all 3 at least adequately if not a bit better than that), he can shoot the ball, get to the line and do so without demanding a ridiculous amount of shots.

If the doctor ordered a Guard who can shoot the ball efficiently on a reasonable amount of shot attempts every game, the doctor’s memo would have included an order for Marcus Thornton.

The Sacramento Kings have had many ill’s, but Marcus Thornton is not one of them. It appears, based on a very small sample size (that would have to continue on this path for quite awhile) no less, that one problem has appeared to found a cure.

Maybe Doctors do get it right sometimes.


  1. […] wasn’t a simple solution of adding Thornton to the rotation. Then, 15 games in, I wrote this about Thornton. So what happened? Why did Thornton’s TS% drop 4 […]

  2. […] And last but not least, the star of the Kings pre-season: Marcus Thornton! I mentioned this in March when I made my official mea-culpa of Marcus Thornton, but the one thing that stuck out from day one about Thornton that he doesn’t turn the ball […]

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