In a league dominated by superstar names and multi-millionaire rookies, players drafted in the second round aren’t supposed to be able to contribute right away to playoff teams.
Apparently rookie Marcus Thornton didn’t get that memo.
When the Hornets saw Thornton wasn’t picked by the start of the second round they actively tried to acquire an additional pick. Eventually the Heat traded the pick to the Hornets in exchange for two future draft picks.
Under Byron Scott, Thornton was rarely used and appeared lost when on the court. Since Jeff Bower gave Byron the boot and took over as head coach, Thornton has been a staple in the offense and the leading scorer off the bench.
He’s scoring 8.8 points per game while shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc.
His tenacity and tough nosed defense is making him a favorite of New Orleans star Chris Paul, who has been looking for and trusting Marcus more with each passing game. As Paul becomes more and more accustomed to Thornton’s habits, the shooting guard will undoubtedly have increased success.
Although his rebounding statistics aren’t phenomenal, he’s made a habit of making his small body felt on the glass. Repeatedly he has out-jumped much larger players for key rebounds.
It’s often said that it’s not who starts a game, but who ends it, that matters. In recent weeks the Hornets have been utilizing Thornton more and more when it matters most.
Making him an even more valuable pickup is the lack of a shooting guard in New Orleans. For years they shuffled mediocre players in and out of the position, including Morris Peterson, Devin Brown, Jannero Pargo and Rasual Butler.
It appears that they may have found a permanent solution in an unlikely place. The only notable second round selections of the last decade have been Trevor Ariza, Gilbert Arenas, Carlos Boozer and Michael Redd.
He's doing this while making only $450,000 dollars a year. Chump-change by NBA standards.
If Thornton can build on what is already a successful rookie year, he will wind up making GM/coach Jeff Bower look like a genius.