Thornton, Collison plan to play in summer league

Thursday, April 15, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

In many cases, when an NBA rookie has as much success as Marcus Thornton and Darren Collison did in 2009-10, they aren’t expected to participate in the NBA Summer League. After his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2005-06, for example, the Hornets requested that Chris Paul not suit up for the team’s summer squad, so he watched from the sideline.

However, Thornton and Collison both say they are planning to be there in early July when the 2010 summer team’s practices commence in Las Vegas. Games for the 2010 NBA Summer League are scheduled for July 9-18.

Currently ranked fifth and sixth by in its “Rookie Rankings,” respectively, Thornton and Collison each have specific aspects of their games that they would like to add or improve. In Thornton’s case, one objective is to become more effective on mid-range jump shots. If you go back and watch video of the 6-foot-4 shooting guard, you will see that the vast majority of his baskets came from attacking the rim, or by firing three-pointers.

“Most of the time I was either going to the goal or shooting the three,” Thornton assessed. “The great players all have mid-range games. Once you have all of those (offensive elements), you know that you have really made your mark.”

Collison’s biggest area of summer concentration may be on taking better care of the ball, after experiencing a few high-turnover games this season. Hornets assistant coach Robert Pack, a former NBA point guard, said he would like the UCLA product to achieve a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in 2010-11. Collison’s ratio as a rookie was 2.1 (he totaled 432 assists and 202 turnovers). To use one instructive comparison, Collison averaged slightly more turnovers per game than Paul this season, even though Collison averaged nine fewer minutes.

“Turnovers really haunt me,” the 22-year-old said. “It really makes me angry as a point guard... I definitely will be more conscious of my turnovers next season.”

Meanwhile, Julian Wright – who has been on the Hornets’ summer team three straight years – will not participate. Wright said he will be devoting more of his offseason to honing his game through individual drills and playing against established NBA players.

“Summer league is so scoring-oriented,” Wright said. “I’m going into my fourth year, and it’s not all about me going out to get buckets. But that’s kind of what summer league is about, being aggressive all the time and scoring. I feel like I’d rather just work on things individually, or if I do play pickup, it will be with guys who have already been in the league for awhile. I feel like that will be best for me.”