addByline("Marc D'Amico", "Celtics.com", "Marc_DAmico");
addPhoto("https://i.cdn.turner.com/drp/nba/celtics/sites/default/files/marcus-thornton-jumper-george-300x350.jpg", "Marcus Thornton lit Paul George and the Pacers up to the tune of 42 points on Jan. 24.", "Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images", "photo-1");
BOSTON – Why isn’t anyone talking about Marcus Thornton?
The sixth-year guard, whom the Celtics acquired from the Nets on July 10, is getting no pub in Boston. Shame on us.
This guy will walk into training camp late next month and immediately be the most explosive scorer in the gym. True story.
Don’t believe that? Here’s why you should.
Thornton is the only Celtics player who can make a claim that he was once a 20-points per game scorer for an NBA team. He averaged 21.3 a night while playing for the Kings in 2010-11.
The following season, Thornton filled it up for Sacramento to the tune of 18.7 PPG. Only one other Celtic has eclipsed that season average at any point in his career. That man is Gerald Wallace, who scored 19.8 PPG during the 2007-08 season.
You might be thinking, “What have you done for me lately?” Or maybe, “He was on a bad team playing against bad opponents.” No worries. This should make you a believer.
Not a single Celtics player notched a more explosive scoring night than Thornton did last season. That should be recent enough.
His 42-point outburst against Indiana on Jan. 24 of last season proved that he can still get buckets, and he can do so against the very best in the world.
That night was pretty magical for Thornton. He torched the Pacers, and in particular, Paul George. Remember, George just so happened to be the second-leading vote getter for the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team last season.
Thornton shot 9-of-16 from the field when George was his primary defender and 16-of-27 from the field overall. He made seven 3-pointers and was perfect from six of the 11 areas of the floor from which he attempted a shot.
George and his Pacers teammates, who finished last season ranked atop the league in opponent field goal percentage, had no answers for Thornton. Thornton made everything from tip-ins to runners to floaters to pull-ups to 3s, and then some.
That last sentence should give you an idea of the depth of his offensive repertoire. He moves well off of the ball, which is how he got himself open for all of those 3-pointers. He’s also sneaky quick off the dribble and can finish in a variety of ways, which is how he scored 14 points in the paint against lane-protectors like Roy Hibbert and David West. These skills allowed Thornton to generate 55.6 percent of his field goals without an assist that night.
What may be even more impressive about those 42 points, which stand as the 11th-most points scored by a single player last season, was that they were tallied with such efficiency. Thornton touched the ball 63 times during that game. Five other players touched the ball more often than he did, and a sixth was only one touch behind.
Getting excited yet? Good. And if you have a few extra minutes, you should watch this playlist of his shots to let it all sink in a little bit more.
Now, back to reality. The fact of the matter is that scoring 42 points is not something Thornton is going to do every night. Heck, he’s only reached that number twice during his career. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s a prolific scorer when he’s on the floor.
Thornton notched nine 20-point games last season despite averaging only 24.2 minutes per game over 72 contests. He tallied 16 20-point games the season before, and 26 the season before that. His per-36-minute scoring average of 18.6 last season would have been tops on the C’s.
You see, there are plenty of reasons for us to be talking about Marcus Thornton. The guy can fill it up in bulk, and he’ll do so as a member of the Celtics this season.