Hornets rookies draw positive reviews

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

ESPN.com recently listed its top rookie performers at NBA Summer League, with Darren Collison cited as ninth on the rundown. Marcus Thornton also was mentioned by ESPN.com analyst David Thorpe. Both rookies played four years in college basketball.

Thorpe said of Collison: “He easily could have been in the top six of this list. I love how he controlled his team and created all sorts of scoring opportunities for his teammates. He also played really well with Marcus Thornton -- the two rooks have potential as a backcourt tandem off the bench this season.”

Of Thornton, Thorpe wrote: “He needs lots of shots to score, but he is an excellent basketball player with supreme confidence. On both sides of the ball.”

I talked to Jeff Bower briefly at the close of summer league in Las Vegas. Bower echoed many of the Collison and Thornton comments provided by ESPN, saying that “they both performed very well in comparison to some of the other rookies, as well as the first- and second-year guys. They’ve matched up very well and rated very highly with them. So we’re very happy.

“I think they’ve shown that they are ready to handle the demands of the NBA. The fact that they have those extra years of experience (in college) may have helped contribute to that. But when we get to this point, it’s all about being ready to compete, ready to prepare (for training camp) and step into a role on a team. We feel these guys are in good position to do those things.”

I also asked Bower about the remainder of the roster, which included a few frontcourt prospects. Depth at power forward and center is an area where the Hornets have said they are seeking reinforcements.

“We had a wide group of players in this summer program,” Bower said of some of the lesser-known roster members. “Some guys we’ve had in the past (on the summer team) and brought back for the purpose of evaluating their progress. Others we followed closely in Europe and wanted to get an up-close look at them playing at this level. We also obviously had some bigs on our roster that we wanted to take a close look at to see their level of play, so that we can project them.”