Under the Radar: Al Thornton

Al ThorntonAl Thornton is a first-year product out of Florida State who was the 14th pick in last years NBA Draft of the Los Angeles Clippers. Once news came out that Elton Brand was basically out for the season, Thornton became the sexy pick, by many analysts, to be the NBA Rookie of the Year because he was projected to be a starter. But the Clips coach, Mike Dunleavy, had other plans. The Clippers starting five did not include Al Thornton but instead saw Maggette at SF, Tim Thomas at PF, and Kaman manning the middle. Most fantasy owners think that Maggette should be switched to the SG to make room for Thornton at SF and based on Thornton’s production lately, with Maggette out with the flu, I believe that Dunleavy should try to get Al Thornton some more playing time, but not necessarily make him a starter. It took Al Thornton more time to adjust to life in the NBA than some thought it would, but I have a feeling the fluctuation in his minutes had a lot to do with that. When Tim Thomas went down with an injury there was a rush by many fantasy owners to pick up Thornton with hopes that he would produce and could earn himself a starting spot, but Thornton struggled some while Thomas was out and ended up not being the break fantasy owners were looking for. Recently the flu bug has been going around the NBA, practically wiping out entire teams at times, and it hit the Clippers fairly hard. It caused Corey Maggette to four games, thus giving Thornton more minutes again. Thornton started in place of Maggette in the first game Maggette missed, and unfortunately he was in foul trouble most of the game and only put up 8 points and 5 rebounds on 4-7 shooting. The next 3 games with Maggette out of the lineup were much better for Al as he averaged 22 points, 5 rebounds, a block, and 1.7 three-pointers over those 3 games without Maggette. Over those three games without Maggette, Thornton averaged almost 37 minutes per contest, two of those being the first guy off the bench and not a starter. If Al Thornton begins to get minutes that are consistently around 25+ minutes then this a guy that you should consider adding to your fantasy team because he could feasibly put up 12-13 points, 4 rebounds, a three and a block a night and be an asset to your fantasy team. Al Thornton is a guy that all fantasy owners need to keep a close eye on for the rest of this year and in the future.

picture courtesy of sports.yahoo.com under the Creative Commons license

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