Stevens Gives Thornton the Green Light

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

addByline("Marc D'Amico", "Celtics.com", "Marc_DAmico");

addPhoto("https://i.cdn.turner.com/drp/nba/celtics/sites/default/files/thornton-jumper-sixers-300x350.jpg", "Marcus Thornton scored 14 points during Monday night's win over the 76ers.", "Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images", "photo-1");

WALTHAM, Mass. – Marcus Thornton knew he’d be wearing green this season. Little did he know, he’d be seeing green, too.

Brad Stevens has chosen to let Thornton loose in Boston. The shooting guard won’t be seeing any red lights in Stevens’ offensive system. Heck, his light won’t even turn yellow.

“He’s got the green light,” Stevens said, “because he can get hot.”

It didn’t take long for Celtics fans to get a view of Thornton’s hot hand. In game No. 1 of the preseason, he dropped in 14 points in just 14 minutes, nailing four of his eight attempts from downtown.

The performance was no surprise to Thornton’s teammates and coaches. He had already shown off his scoring prowess over the first five days of practice, including one instance that sparked a learning moment for one of Boston’s rookies.

“We scrimmaged the other day and [Thornton] got a 3 in transition and then a layup in transition, and James Young left his body on the next possession,” Stevens explained. “I told James, ‘You give that guy – after he just saw the ball go through the net – another shot, nine times out of 10 he’s going to make it.’”

Any player would love to play for a coach who dishes out compliments like that. Thornton is no exception. The sixth-year guard is at ease here in Boston, knowing that Stevens wants him to do what he does best.

“Now I feel like I have no pressure on me,” Thornton said. “I just go out there and play my game.”

He added to that notion moments later by saying, “I’ve been a scorer all my life. For coach to have that confidence in me to put me out there… I’ve made mistakes, but to be able to fight through it and for him to know I’m going to produce is a good feeling.”

As Stevens stated on Tuesday, the Celtics may not be able to survive without a productive Thornton.

“You play a role, and his role is to score in bunches,” said Stevens. “I think that’s a great role to have, because everybody likes it. That’s what he does well, and we’re going to have to continue to have him do that.”

There’s no doubt that we’re going to see Thornton score in bunches this season. That’s just what he does. We just need to refrain from expecting him to do so on a nightly basis.

Stevens has realistic expectations for Thornton. He compared his new shooting guard to a guy who was on Boston’s roster for the first three months of last season, Jordan Crawford. Crawford is the epitome of a streak shooter, and he shot the C’s to multiple wins a season ago. Stevens believes Thornton can do the same.

“Jordan’s percentages weren’t always great, but when he got hot, the rim seemed like the ocean,” the coach said. “That’s what Marcus can for you.”

And that’s why he’ll be seeing the ultimate green light this season in Boston.