Marcus Thornton NBA Status Update: Slow Start & Strong Finish

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Marcus Thornton, William & Mary’s all-time leading scorer was drafted 45th overall (2nd round) by the Boston Celtics in this year’s 2015 NBA Draft. Since the draft, Marcus has been busy acclimating himself to life in the NBA, starting with this offseason’s Summer League schedule.

For those that don’t know, “The NBA Summer League is a series of off-season competitions during which National Basketball Association teams come together to try out different summer rosters instead of their regular season line-ups. Typically consisting of a mix of rookies, second year players, and unsigned free agents” (per Wikipedia). As the 2015 NBA Summer League slowly winds down, we at the W&M Sports Blog have been busy keeping a close eye on Marcus’ play during each game. Below are our short game-by-game analyses for Marcus Thornton thus far.

Game 1 – MONDAY, JULY 6, 2015 vs. Utah Jazz

Jazz 100 Celtics 82

Marcus: 5:04 minutes played, 0-1 FGM-A, 0 AST, 0 Pts

Marcus just got his feet wet in this game, playing just over five minutes, but missing on his lone attempted shot. Nothing much to analyze here, only to note that he didn’t receive much playing time early during Summer League play.

Game 2 – TUESDAY, JULY 7, 2015 vs. Philadelphia 76ers

76ers 76 Celtics 62

Marcus: 22:27 minutes played, 2-11 FGM-A, 0-5 3PM-A, 3-3 FTM-A, 3 Rebounds, 2 STL, 7 Pts

Marcus saw his minutes rise exponentially in this contest as compared with the first. He finished with 7 points and two steals, but shot an un-Marcus like low shooting percentage, especially from beyond the arc–something Tribe fans aren’t used to seeing from the sharpshooting guard. He shot a disastrous 0-5 from beyond the arc, and wasn’t much better from within the 3 point arc. However, Marcus did have some positives, racking up 3 rebounds and a couple assists.

Game 3 – THURSDAY, JULY 9, 2015 vs. San Antonio Spurs

Celtics 85 Spurs 71

Marcus: 1:44 minutes played, 0-0 FGM-A, 2 Fouls, 0 Pts

Marcus’ minutes dramatically diminished in this contest, as they were even lower than in his first game against the Jazz. Thornton got blown by on a couple defensive plays, drawing two fouls in the process before being taken out after less than two minutes. Fellow rookie guards Terry Rozier (16 pts) and RJ Hunter (18 pts) stole the show in this one. This would undoubtedly be Marcus’ worst game in Summer League play.

Game 4 – SATURDAY, JULY 11, 2015 vs. Portland Trailblazers

Celtics 85 Trail Blazers 76

Marcus: 7:26 minutes played, 0-3 FGM-A, 0-1 3PM-A, 1-2 FTM-A, 1 Rebound, 1 Foul, 1 Turnover, 1 Pt

Marcus’ following game resulted in more playing time, but similar numbers in the scoring column. For whatever reason, up to this point, Marcus had not been able to show off his shooting capabilities, as he did year in and year out at William & Mary.

Game 5 – SUNDAY, JULY 12, 2015 vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Celtics 85 76ers 76

Marcus: 6:04 minutes played, 0-1 FGM-A, 0-1 3PM-A, FTM-A, 1 STL, 0 Pts

In Game 5 of summer league play, Marcus turned in a stat line very similar to Game 1. It’s interesting to note that through four games, Marcus had not yet connected on a 3 point shot–the hallmark of Marcus’ game. Up to this point, Thornton was 0-7 from three, averaging a meager 1.6 points per game. That would all change in the Celtics’ next contest vs. the Miami Heat.

Game 6 – TUESDAY, JULY 14, 2015 vs. Miami Heat

Celtics 101 Heat 69

Marcus: 19:47 minutes played, 5-8 FGM-A, 3-3 3PM-A, 9-9 FTM-A, 2 STL, 2 AST, 21 Pts

This was easily Marcus’ strongest game of them all from start to finish. Soon after checking into the game during the 2nd quarter, Marcus made a patented drive to the lane for an awesome and-one play, racking up 3 points in the process. A couple minutes later, Thornton cut to the hoop on a fast break, caught the pass and put up a shot–drawing a foul and just nearly missing a basket after it rolled around the rim. Marcus then sunk both free throws.

Literally less than 30 seconds after that, Marcus intercepted an errant pass at the defensive end, drove down the court, and put up a shot that just missed–drawing a foul, and again sinking both shots. The possession AFTER THAT, Marcus drove to the rack from the 3 point line and drew ANOTHER foul, and sunk both of those shots!

Marcus went on to hit his first 3 of the entire Summer League, on a catch and shoot fadeaway three, connecting on three total threes in the contest. He looked like he was back in good ole Kaplan Arena the entire game. The announcer of the game said it best, “[Thornton’s] from W&M…I’m sure he’s excited to get out of here against these guys and prove he’s just as good.” He did just that Tuesday night. You can check out Marcus’ highlights in the video below, courtesy of GD’s Final Highlights!

Looking Ahead

Nobody said it would be easy. Marcus Thornton graduated William & Mary as the program’s all-time leading scorer and all-time great, but the NBA is a different animal. Marcus has an insane amount of talent, so much so that the Boston Celtics decided to spend a valuable draft pick on him. Great things abound in Thornton’s future, but we will have to wait and see how his future unfolds in the coming years.

Regarding Thornton and the Boston Celtics, it seems that there is no limit as to how many years a team’s draft rights last. This would mean that the Celtics will retrain rights to Marcus indefinitely until they either sign him, release him, or trade him. As of now, and because of the Celtics’ depth at the guard position, it seems likely that Marcus will either head to the NBA’s Developmental League (D League), or head overseas to play in Europe for a period of time before having another shot at the NBA.

However, a team may look at Marcus’ most recent Summer League performance and decide to try and trade for him and sign him now. Either way, he will be able to develop his craft and grow as a player against stronger competition in the coming year. We here at the Blog believe in Marcus, and know with his insane work ethic and off the court intangibles, he will have a great shot at the NBA. Good luck Marcus, and LET’S GO TRIBE!!!

Marcus Thornton joins another Tribe great (Thomas Jefferson, second from the left) atop Mt. Rushmore in the lore of W&M history
Marcus Thornton has joined another W&M great (Thomas Jefferson, second from the left) atop Mt. Rushmore in the lore of W&M history.

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