Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fantasy Baller On The Brink: Al Thornton

Entering the 2007 draft, I felt Florida State Forward Al Thornton was the most NBA-ready player outside of the draft's consensus top three picks - Greg Oden, Kevin Durant and Al Horford -and a guy who could make an immediate impact given the right situation. Thornton slipped to the Clippers at 14 mostly because of his age (he's 24) and as such his lack of, you guessed it, "upside." I hope the Kings enjoy #10 pick Spencer Hawes, the reincarnation of Bryant Reeves AKA Big Country, as their slow, white center of the future. Sometimes I wonder how many drafts the phrase "can't teach size" has sunk...

Anyway, after getting off to a slow start due to a lack of playing time, (the Clips were hot early and playing their vets) Thornton is starting to come on. Over his last seven games Thornton is averaging 14.7 points and 5.3 rebounds a game. More importantly, he meets the two requirements I established in a previous post aimed at helping managers identify young players that are add-worthy rather than a tease. Speaking of which, check out Nate Robinson's game log and if you haven't already, go ahead and pick him up. His production is no fluke.

Requirement One - Consistently Playing 25 minutes/game

Thornton has started 6 0f the Clippers last 7 games. He has eclipsed the golden 25 minutes/game mark 5 times and is averaging a solid 31 minutes a night over that span. A telling stat regarding Thornton's offensive production relative to his playing time can be found in the 7 games Thornton played at least 25 minutes. In those contests, he has scored in double figures 6 times and had 5 or more rebounds 5 times.

Requirement Two - Will maintain/expand current role going forward because team is losing OR on the verge of trading veteran players.

If you haven't noticed, the Clippers are a bad team (currently standing at 10-22) with no plans of contending right now especially as their best player, Elton Brand, recovers from a ruptured left achilles - his return this season remains questionable. As such, the Clippers have been giving more and more minutes to Thornton rather than the mediocre vets (See: Tim Thomas, Cuttino Mobley and Brevin Knight) who are now relegated to the bench. As further reassurance for fantasy owners, since Corey Maggette's return from injury 2 weeks ago, Thornton has continued to get starts alongside the former Duke star. This is big because outside of Brand, Maggette would be the biggest threat to Thornton's playing time.

Going forward, I don't see why Thornton couldn't put up around 16 points and 6 rebounds a night with the potential of adding to those totals as the season progresses. His playing time should remain consistent or increase with the only real threat to his value being the return of Elton Brand to the starting lineup, which I doubt we'll see anytime soon.

So friends feel free to pick up Thornton now. He will be a nice addition to your bench as we inch closer to playoff time.


1 comment:

Depressed Fan said...

You can add Thad Young to this list, hopefully very soon.

He's topped 20 minutes three times this week, and put up the following numbers:

22 minutes, 16 points, 9 boards, 1 block

25 minutes, 11 points, 8 boards, 3 steals

28 minutes, 16 points, 4 boards, 2 steals, 1 block.

His minutes should stay up there with the departure of Kyle Korver.