Fresh off of a 4 year, $31 million dollar extension, the 2011-12 season was to be the coming out party for Marcus Thornton – and he didn’t disappoint. Although he shined in the 27 games he played for the Kings after being brought over at the 2010-11 trade deadline, many questioned if the Bayou Bomber could maintain his high level play after signing the big deal, and maintain he did.
Granted, given his performance in the ’10-11 season for the Kings, it was hard not to expect some regression considering just how good he was, but the former LSU Tiger kept the pace despite missing a career high 15 games with a nagging thigh injury. There are many questions as to how Thornton fits with fellow backcourt mate Tyreke Evans, questions that need addressing in the future, as Thornton’s play without Evans improves even more – but even paired together, Thornton’s season was very solid across the board.
Despite having a lesser usage rate this past season compared to the near 30 games he played for the Kings the previous year, Thornton’s offensive win shares climbed to a career high 3.7, although his defensive win shares dropped to a career low at 0.1, resulting in a combined 3.8 win share – the second highest of his young career – even more than his 2.6 win share of the previous year. With the lower usage rate came less turnovers, although, the lesser usage rate (mostly due to the addition of Isaiah Thomas‘ ball-handling) resulted in less assists, something that Thornton struggled with the entire season.
For all of the good that Thornton brought to the team this year, it wasn’t perfect as his defense and scorers mentality hurt the Kings at times. A significantly lower defensive win share rating (0.1, career lowest prior to that was 0.8) combined with a career high (not in the good way) in defense rating at 112 (points allowed per 100 possessions) statistically made Marcus the worst defensive starter on the team. Granted, statistics can be skewed in particular ways, good or bad, so while I wont go as far as to say that Thornton is the worst defender in the Kings starting five, there is plenty of room for improvement. In addition to the defense, Thornton’s desire to do the job all alone wasn’t as effective as he may have thought, countless times refusing to pass to an open player, opting for a much more difficult shot – especially on fast breaks. Thornton wasn’t alone in this – maybe it was the fact the Kings didn’t trust their teammates, maybe Marcus was channeling his inner Kobe, either way, it was something he and other struggled without throughout the season, but he especially.
Overall, while there were some problem areas for the native Louisianan, his 2011-12 season was pretty effective and a plus for the Kings.
Season Grade: B+