In what would be the worst kept secret from the NBL off-season so far it is officially confirmed that Marcus Thornton, the 45th selection of this year’s draft, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Sydney Kings.
Team president Danny Ainge had made it clear in multiple interviews that the Celtics had that the team had selected Thornton with the intention of having him play overseas or in the D-League for 2015/16.
The Kings are able to offer a number of advantages to both Thornton and the Celtics few other clubs can provide.
A Short Term Commitment – The NBL finishes in early March which would allow Thornton to return to the USA to play in the D-League for a second paycheck or even play a few of the Celtics final games is his development is on track.
Low Intensity Season – 1-2 games per week is a lot less than the D-League or most elite European leagues. This means less time to get hurt and more time to develop in the gym, both things the Celtics would find favourable.
No Language Barrier – English speaking coaches and teammates (as well as the opportunity to play and learn from former NBA star Josh Childress)
Thornton is a high-volume scorer that nearly led William & Mary to the NCAA Tournament last season. He averaged 20 points a game for the Tribe while shooting 45 percent from the field. He is a versatile scorer that is expected to put up numbers is rapid fashion from the perimeter, off screens and as a cutter. He is expected to have no trouble scoring in the NBA so his performances in the NBL could be quite a spectacle (did someone say Carfino-esque?)
Marcus Thornton William & Mary University Highlights
With a “Big 3” of Thornton, Josh Childress and Julian Khazzouh the Kings will have arguably their most potent offence since the returned to the league in 2009. The Kings have not had a winning season since they returned to the league so these signings are sure to have Kings fans buzzing about next season.
“It’s a great acquisition for this club,” said Kings head coach Damian Cotter.
“Marcus’ versatility, athleticism and skill set are going to cause match up problems for opponents, and he’ll be coming in to a situation where he will have the opportunity to lead a very talented team.”
“There has been a great deal of research done on Marcus and after watching him in the Summer League and during his time in college, he is a perfect fit — both in character and as a player.”
All of this in mind draft reports conceded that NBA teams were concerned with Thornton’s size, particular y around whether he was big enough to score on an NBA level. Thornton will use the opportunities to develop his scoring against quality defences in Australia and get plenty of time with the Kings trainers in the gym to change the his current perception.
James Ennis who played one season with the Perth Wildcats before signing a lucrative deal with the Miami Heat followed a similar path to NBA success, no doubt Thornton will hope to follow in Ennis’ footsteps.
Thornton has not commented publicly on being signed yet but his proud father has.
“He’s pretty excited about it,” Wayne Thornton told the Boston Globe. “I think it’s what the Celtics had told him all along they were planning on doing, and so I think they have a strategic plan. He’ll get plenty of opportunities to play over there, and hopefully that leads him to future time with the Boston Celtics.”
Thornton’s father, Wayne, said Marcus hoped to develop his 3-point shot and play extensively at point guard in Sydney, because that would most likely be his position if he reached the NBA.
Thornton set the career scoring record at William & Mary this past season prior to adding an honourable mention AP All-American to his resume.
He did play on the Celtics summer league squad but only played 3 games where he was on court for more than 10 minutes. He averaged 10 points per game in games where he played 10 or more minutes.
The Kings are hoping to have Thornton in uniform for their upcoming tour of New Zealand in September.
|Current Sydney Kings line-up|