The NBA Draft is less than a month away, and we couldn’t be more excited about it!
60 of the best young basketball players in the world will hear their name called, as they finally realize their dreams of being drafted to the NBA. At the same time, however, players will see their dreams come to an end as they fail to walk across the stage to shake the commissioner’s hand.
With a rich talent pool this season, there are bound to be players who had great collegiate careers that don’t get drafted. It doesn’t mean they won’t ever play in the NBA, they will just have to take a detour.
This is the time of year when people try to find out as much information about players as they possibly can, so they can be familiar with whomever their favourite NBA team selects on draft day.
Yes, there will be situations like Toronto last season, when they selected Bruno Caboclo, where even the commentators were stunned at the selection. For the most part, the players selected have been household names in college, or on the international stage.
Over the course of the next few weeks leading up to the draft, we will post a new draft preview each day that highlights a player who has a great chance to be drafted. One thing that we are doing different than other sites is not focusing on players in the first round. These players are constantly covered, and you can find information on them all over the place.
We will look at players who don’t get as much attention as they deserve, as we try to shine the light on some underrated talents in the NBA Draft. Today’s feature: Marcus Thornton, William & Mary.
Marcus Thornton – William & Mary Tribe
Weight: 178 pounds
Birthplace: Upper Marlboro, MD
2014-15 Stats: 20.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.9 apg
When you think of star players at the NCAA level, thoughts tend to migrate to players that can be found on a Power Five conference team. However, in the 2014-15 season, one of the best players in the country called Williamsburg, VA his home.
His name is Marcus Thornton, and he is the all-time leading scorer in Tribe men’s basketball history, for those of you keeping track at home.
Over the last three seasons with the Tribe, Thornton has developed into quite the offensive threat. The All-American averaged at least 18.0 points per game over his last three years at William & Mary, en route to the school scoring title. Thornton helped lead the Tribe to a 20 – 13 record in 2014-15, and an appearance in the 2015 NIT field, where they fell to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the first round.
Thornton is known as an elite scorer, and there’s no denying that. But the question around Thornton now is simple, what else can he bring to the table? We take a look at his pros and cons as he gets prepared for the 2015 NBA Draft.
The first strength of Marcus Thornton’s game is a no-brainer. In order to be an elite scorer, you need to be an effective shooter, and Thornton is just that. Over the course of his career, he has shown that he has great shooting range, and can make NBA-length three pointers with relative ease and consistency. Over the past three seasons, he has shot over 40% from the floor and from three-point range in each season. Collectively, over his four-year career with the Tribe, Thornton was a 40.1% three point shooter (325-of-809). His shooting ability will carry him far in his professional basketball career.
While hos scoring ability has teams interested in his services, Thornton’s athletic ability is what has teams liking what they see from the senior guard. Thornton is known as one of the quickest guards in the nation, and NBA coaches and executives like his speed up and down the floor on a regular basis. He’s also an explosive jumper for a guard who stands at 6’3”, which allows him to finish at the rim. His combination of speed and jumping ability makes him a unique combo guard who can score all over the floor, forcing his opponents to know where he is on the floor at all times.
Equipped with his shooting ability and his athleticism, Thornton’s poised for a strong career at the next level. With that said, there are some areas of his game that he can improve on to better his chances moving forwards.
One knock on Thornton’s game is something that is entirely out of his control. At the college level, the 6’3” guard played shooting guard. At the NBA level, he is undersized for the role of playing in the 2-spot. Being undersized is what is most likely keeping him down the list in terms of projected draft position. He has all of the talent and physical tools to excel in the NBA, but being undersized for his natural position of shooting guard doesn’t bode well for him in terms of overall draft stock.
Thornton is known as a scorer, but he’s not known for any other performance aspects of his game. He’s not a strong rebounder or ball distributor, which may also be hindering his draft position. In his pre-draft workouts, if he can show an improvement in these areas in particular, he may be able to garner a few more looks as we approach the draft.
While Marcus Thornton is a top-tier prospect, and excelled at the NCAA level, it’s tough to predict him having his name called come draft day. He’s currently ranked 100 on ESPN’s Big Board by Chad Ford, and comes in as the 25th-ranked shooting guard. In the 2015 draft class, there are too many players above Thornton to see him making his way into the conversation for a late second-round selection.
Thornton will likely sign a contract to play in the summer league, where he will need to leave his mark if he has any hopes of signing with an NBA team. Regardless of where he lands, Thornton will have a strong professional basketball career.