Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thornton's playing well in Washington

When the Wizards sent Drew Gooden to the Clippers in exchange for Al Thornton, I was pretty happy. Not because I knew a whole lot about Thornton, but because the Wizards received a semi-young (26) player for basically nothing. Not only that, but Thornton is under contract next season for $2.8 million, and he has a team option for 2011-2012 at $3.9 million -- meaning the Wizards acquired a decent, affordable talent.

While no one on the Wizards has been playing as well as Andray Blatche, Thornton has been contributing nicely to the Wizards' somewhat improved play. Of course, Thornton has only been in Washington for six games, but here are his numbers from this season with the Clippers and then with the Wizards:

Team PPG Reb Ast FG% TO Min
Clippers 10.8 3.8 1.2 47.8 1.3 27.4
Wizards 15.8 6.0 1.3 52.8 1.3 32.4

Again, this is just a six-game sample with the Wizards, but since there hasn't exactly been a ton of positive things to examine this season, I'm still going to look at it. The increase in minutes -- about five more minutes per game in Washington -- has helped Thornton shoot more (about three more shot attempts per game), but he's still shooting the ball more efficiently. He's also been more active in grabbing rebounds, and in those six games he has seven blocks. Thornton will never be a guy who puts up a ton of assists -- he really likes to shoot the ball -- but there's no question that he's brought some energy to Washington along with James Singleton. Sometimes going to a new place and getting to play more will do that.

I doubt that Thornton will ever play 37 minutes per game again like he did last season, when he averaged 16.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and shot 44.6 percent from the field. But as long as he keeps shooting the ball well and working hard (not to mention staying inside the three-point line since he's a career 30.8 percent shooter from long range), he can be a nice piece for the Wizards -- probably as a scorer off the bench. At the very least, Thornton seems like a better option than Nick Young.

Contract info via HoopsHype

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