Marcus Thornton Finding his Feet Down Under
SYDNEY, Australia – It may have taken him a couple of weeks to settle in, but Marcus Thornton is growing in confidence as he looks to transition his deadly shooting game from college to the pros.
After being selected 45th overall by the Boston Celtics in the 2015 NBA Draft, William & Mary’s all-time leading scorer headed to Australia to play for the Sydney Kings of the National Basketball League.
Thornton connected on just over 31 percent of his 16 shots per game during Sydney’s first six contests of the season, but the 6-foot-4 guard has found his feet during his last four outings, scoring just shy of 21 points per game during that span.
That included a strong back-to-back showing against a thriving Melbourne United squad, when Thornton hit 21-of-37 total shots, resulting in 29- and 25-point performances.
“I didn’t shoot the ball to the standards that I’m accustomed to at the start of the season but I shot pretty well against Melbourne,” said Thornton. “It’s about me feeling comfortable and getting to my shots. As the season goes on I’m sure I’ll continue to grow and develop that facet of my game.”
The Kings as a collective unit have struggled out of the gate this season with just three wins during their opening 10 matches. Not helping the matter is the fact that marquee player Josh Childress has missed significant time due to injury.
“We have a really new team as well with six new players this year so I think for all of us it’s been a bit of an adjustment,” said Thornton. “We’ve had to learn how we all fit in and how each of us play. The team is pretty good though so we will get to that cohesion point and finish the season strong.”
While many young talents ply their trade in the NBA Development League and in European leagues, Thornton believes the NBL was the right place for him to take his game to the next level.
The league has been getting stronger in recent years with a host of international players complementing a deeper talent pool of local stars.
“I spoke to Josh Childress before I headed over and he told me about how the league was getting stronger,” said Thornton. “From what I’ve seen and played in so far, every team you play is a tough game. It’s good for the league itself but also great in helping me to become a better player.”
Childress, along with fellow former NBA player Al Harrington, may turn out to be influential teammates for Thornton.
“At the moment I’m wanting to focus on how our team is going this early on in the season as we have been struggling a bit,” said the 22-year-old. “Down the track, I know I will speak to Josh and Al about their experiences.”
He added, “It’s great to have [former] NBA veterans in the locker room.”
Despite being roughly 10,000 miles from Boston, Thornton is making sure that he is following how the Celtics season is unfolding when he can.
“I’m keeping track of how the team is going,” he said. “It’s tough to catch games out here, but I’m making sure I watch the highlights and follow it as much as I can.”
And when he is not catching up with the Celtics’ latest results?
“I’m just enjoying the beautiful weather out here,” said Thornton. “I haven’t made it out to the beach yet, but I’m working on that.”