NBA Combine Media Availability Interviews May 29, 2009
[Read Full Article] Situational Statistics: This Year's Shooting Guard Crop April 27, 2009 ēMarcus Thornton is a capable scorer who should benefit from playing a smaller role at the next level.
Thornton ranks fourth in possessions used per game 20.6, and his overall PPP of 1 is indicative of how well he played despite his high usage. More so than some of the players ahead of him, Thornton does a little bit of everything. He gets almost 7.2 Pos/G as a finisher, and though his PPP isnít off the charts at 1.12, it is still above average. Thornton ranks third in catch and shoot possessions per game, but displayed questionable shot selection in shooting 3.6 guarded jumpers in comparison to just 2.2 unguarded shots. Fortunately for Thornton, his guarded PPP of 1.09 ranks third overall. That ability to make shots with a hand in his face should translate itself nicely to the NBA, where open looks are harder to come by.
Only a decent scorer on isolations, off of pull ups, and on the pick and roll, Thornton got more shots off of cuts than any other shooting guard and took the second most shots off of screens. His coach obviously loved running plays for him in the half-court, and his ability to play without the ball should make him a big asset from day one in the NBA. Something of a jack of all trades, Thornton even got a whole possession per game in the post, and is the type of player that can contribute for almost any type of team. He can do so many different things that heís a good fit in most systems, so long as he doesnít have to put the ball on the floor a great deal in half court settings to create offense. [Read Full Article] Blogging Through the NCAA Tournament (Day Three) March 21, 2009 LSU managed to stay in the game largely thanks to the production of Tasmin Mitchell and Marcus Thornton, who combined to score 43 of their 70 points. Mitchell was big in the first 25 minutes of the game, compiling 16 of his 18 points, while Thornton came around late, scoring 18 points in the second half to finish with 25 on the night. Just like in the game against Butler, Thornton again showed the ability to score in many different ways against North Carolina, be it making shots from the perimeter (5-11 3P), putting the ball on the floor and going to the basket, using his strong body to post up inside, or by crashing the offensive glass. Nothing he did here was all that different from what heís been doing all season long for LSU, but the stage he competed on and the team he did it against will likely force some NBA decision makers who were not as familiar with him to take another look at the season he had. He definitely helped himself this weekend. [Read Full Article] NCAA Weekly Performers, 2/11/09 February 11, 2009 With very little acclaim from the national media, Marcus Thornton has quietly developed into one of the top scorers in college basketball. Thornton has not only put together a sensational senior season from an individual statistical standpoint, heís also helped LSU to a 19-4 record and a first place ranking in the SEC.
This past summer, when reviewing Thorntonís film from last season, we came away with the impression that weíre looking at absolute scoring machine of a shooting guard, with some very noticeable flaws in his game. Under the tutelage of new head coach Trent Johnson, Thornton has made huge strides in many of the areas we were concerned about, which has made him into of the most productive players in the country.
Thornton has made a number of subtle changes to his game that has made him a far more efficient player. Heís showing much better shot-selection for one, relying less heavily on 3-pointers. Only 35% of his field goal attempts come from behind the arc this season, as opposed to nearly 50% last season. His field goal percentage is up in turn by 6% to a hair under 50% now, while heís shooting over 41% from 3-point range. Heís getting to the free throw line far more as well (6.9 per-40 compared to 4.3), although heís shooting worse once there.
Perhaps most telling is the dramatic improvement heís shown in his assist to turnover ratio, from .62 to 1.36ómeaning heís dishing out twice as many assists this season for every one turnover he commits. Any way you slice it, Thornton is playing much better basketball, which helps in large part explain why LSU has gone from firing their coach after a mediocre 13-18 season, to being the best team in the SEC.
Thornton is still very much a gunner, heís just a much more efficient one now. He ranks 8th in the country in field goal attempts per-40 minutes, but is spectacularly proficient, ranking second in the NCAA in Dean Oliverís offensive rating, at 124 points produced per 100 possessions. His ability to get to the line, score inside and outside the arc, grab offensive rebounds, dish out assists and not turn the ball over makes him one of the most complete offensive players in college basketball.
The way Thornton scores looks fairly likely to be able to translate to the NBA level, at least in some capacity. LSU likes to run Thornton off a huge number of stagger screens, flex cuts and curls, utilizing his terrific ability to catch and shoot. Thornton possesses an extremely quick release, and also likes to add in a slight fade-away to his jump-shot, which helps him create separation from his defender even more effectively. He is terrific at moving off the ball on top of that, and thus is an extremely deadly weapon at the college level.
Far more than just a spot-up shooter, Thornton can also put the ball on the floor and make his way to the basket, as evidenced by the high amount of free throws he attempts each game. Thornton is a good, but not great ball-handler, but his combination of strength, quickness and aggressiveness allows him to get to the rim and finish very effectively at the college level. Heís an incredibly mistake-free player as well, ranking first amongst all shooting guards in turnover ratio, while coughing the ball up on just 9% of his possessions. Heís also one of the best offensive rebounding guards in the NCAA, becoming even more prolific in that area this season.
With that said, there are a couple of chinks in Thorntonís armor, which will likely become more noticeable against NBA-level defenders, when he doesnít have an entire offense geared towards getting him shots. When forced to pull-up and shoot off the dribble, Thorntonís accuracy drops dramatically. Thornton is not a great ball-handler with his left hand, and heís a little bit undersized as well. His ability to score off isolation plays is a bit limited--if forced to create his own shot on his own using advanced moves, he strugglesóso itís obvious that he needs teammates and plays designed to work for him.
In the NBA he will probably have to develop his mid-range game (which is not polished at all), as he wonít be able to get to the basket and finish in traffic nearly as effectively. While his shot-selection has obviously improved quite a bit, he is still prone to showing some poor shot-selection from time to time, something that coaches will probably have to live with considering the type of scorer Thornton is.
Defensively is where LSU may have improved the most under Trent Johnson, and Thornton doesnít seem to be any exception. He shows good effort and activity level, getting low in a stance and doing everything he can to contain his matchup, often looking very physical and intense in the process. His fundamentals are still a bit lacking at timesóhe tends to overextend himself, reach for steals or bite on pump-fakesóbut for the most part he does a pretty good job. His lack of size may be a bit of concern going up against bigger NBA shooting guards, but he does seem to have a good wingspan, which shows up in his ability to get in the passing lanes.
All in all, Thornton has done an excellent job this season making a strong case for himself as an NBA draft prospect, and there is a pretty good chance that heíll be rewarded for that. If LSU can find a way to continue their momentum and cause some damage come tournament time, NBA decision makers will likely become a lot more aware of the season heís having. Heís a bit under the radar now, but definitely has the makings of an intriguing prospect. [Read Full Article] Top NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC (Part Two: #6-10) September 17, 2008 The second leading scorer in the SEC last season, and the top returning one now that Shan Foster has graduated, there is very little doubt that Marcus Thornton was able to make an immediate impact on the scoreboard for LSU right out of Kilgore Junior College. Slightly undersized at 6-4, with nice athleticism and a solid frame, Thornton clearly has the physical tools needed to make his presence felt in the SEC. Now going into his final season of collegiate eligibility, Thornton has a chance to improve his standing in the eyes of NBA types by delivering a more balanced offering individually, while also winning more games. The two are clearly correlated with each other.
There is a lot to like here in terms of pure natural ability. Averaging just a hair under 20 points per game last season, Thornton can obviously be described as a ďscorerĒ first and foremost. Although heís much more than just a spot-up shooter, itís his shooting stroke that provides him with a large part of his production, as evidenced by the fact that 50% of his field goal attempts came from behind the arc.
When given a second to set his feet and get his shot off, there arenít many players anywhere in the NCAA who are more effective than Thornton. He sets his feet and goes into his shooting motion very quickly, possessing a very fluid and natural stroke that yields great results as long as he isnít forced to rush too much. Thornton can heat up very quickly and go off on ridiculous scoring barrages at times, as he showed in the SEC slate last season, where he eclipsed the 35 point mark on three separate occasions (going a combined 19 of 34 from behind the arc in the process).
When he is forced (or just decides) to rush, though, and especially shooting off the dribble, Thorntonís accuracy drops off dramatically, as he doesnít get enough legs underneath his shot and typically comes up short or even doesnít draw iron. Being such a natural scoring talent, capable of making shots with an incredibly high-degree of difficulty, he seems to want to try to convert these type of attempts every time down the floor seemingly, which lowers his percentages significantly. He ranked 13th amongst all players in our database at field goal attempts per-40 minutes pace adjusted, and 17th in field goal attempts per possession, despite not really showing the type of shooting efficiency needed to back up carrying such a large load offensively.
Thorntonís shot-selection appears to have a very long ways to go, as he takes a couple of terrible shots each game that you wouldnít even expect to see in a junior college game. Off-balance, early in the shot clock, with a hand in his face and no one underneath the basket, itís not hard to come to the conclusion at times that heís playing for himself (and his stats) and no one else. There is simply no other explanation why he would take some of the shots he does.
This was a problem that plagued LSUís entire team (a big reason they had such a bad season), but no one exemplified this problem more than him. With a new coaching staff in place coming in from a completely different type of culture than LSU has seen in recent years, it will be fascinating to see if they are able to change some of the bad habits players like Thornton have acquired. It must be said that despite his poor shot-selection, Thornton still managed to hit nearly three 3-pointers per game on a 38% clip, which is pretty impressive.
Looking beyond Thorntonís perimeter game, there seems to be room for improvement as well. Fairly quick, strong, and extremely high-energy (which all combined also makes him one of the best offensive rebounding shooting guards in the NCAA), Thornton is capable of getting to the rim and/or free throw line relatively well, and looks extremely tough finishing shots in traffic at times. Heís nothing more than an average ball-handler, though, which hurts him when trying to create his own shot and finish around the rim considering his already average size and leaping ability. By the time he gets into the paint, he often looks out of control already, which is part of the reason he averaged 50% more turnovers than assists. These are correctable flaws, though, largely a matter of polish and experience, things that Thornton is obviously lacking in currently, but can still improve on significantly.
Defensively, Thornton will make some plays from time to time (his length and strength help him in this area), but he canít be described as being anything more than average. Besides lacking an inch or two compared to the prototypical NBA shooting guard, he also lacks intensity and awareness on this end too. This shows up most in his ability to defend the pick and roll, as he regularly gets buried behind screens and doesnít put much of an effort into knowing where he is supposed to be on the floor. This again seemed to be a problem with LSU as a whole, so it will be interesting to see how things look this upcoming season under a new coaching regime. If Thornton can show that he can be relied upon to defend his position at the next level, his chances of making it will improve substantially, so this is something he must work seriously on over the next year.
All in all, Thornton is going to get extended looks this fall and spring from the NBA, as there just arenít that many players in college basketball with his natural scoring ability, even if his flaws are quite obvious. There are a number of adjustments he needs to make to his game, mostly in terms of his mentality and overall approach, but also by rounding out his all-around skill-set. He has the potential to make an NBA team, or even get drafted possibly (if Joe Crawford can, then he surely can too), but a lot of that will come down to the type of season he has at LSU, and how he performs during the pre-draft process. [Read Full Article]