Thornton emerging as a keeper

February, 25, 2010

Despite the loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Hornets guard Marcus Thornton has been great of late. He followed up a 37-point explosion in Cleveland with a 25-point performance in Milwaukee, and he's not just scoring. He's getting to the line, racking up steals and making plenty of 3-pointers, too.

Thornton seems to have reclaimed the bulk of the shooting guard minutes in New Orleans, at least in the short term, and needs to be in fantasy lineups until something changes. Even after Chris Paul returns (if the Hornets decide to bring him back this season), it seems completely clear that Thornton is a much better shooting guard option than Morris Peterson, who has fallen off a cliff as a shooter this season. Perhaps most importantly, Thornton is proving to be a great long-range shooter; his 38.3 percent mark to this point is great for a rookie who shot that same percentage for two years from the college line at LSU.

Considering his prospects for the coming weeks and the gaping hole the Hornets have at shooting guard when he's out of the lineup, Thornton looks like a pretty good keeper candidate, too. Basically, if you are in one of the 90 percent of fantasy leagues in which he's unowned, now looks like a pretty good time to pick him up.

Looking back

Carlos Boozer, Jazz: 33 points (13-16 FG), 16 rebounds, 2 steals versus the Bobcats.
Luol Deng, Bulls: 31 points (10-19 FG, 10-11 FT), 9 rebounds, 4 blocks against the Pacers.
Dwight Howard, Magic: 30 points (11-11 FG), 16 rebounds versus the Rockets.
C.J. Miles, Jazz: 4 points (1-10 FG), 1 rebound, 2 assists in 30 minutes versus the Bobcats.
Tony Parker, Spurs: 4 points (2-6 FG), 0 rebounds, 0 assists against the Thunder.
Luis Scola, Rockets: 0 points (0-5 FG), 3 rebounds versus the Magic.
New Washington Wizard Al Thornton still won't provide you with anything besides scoring, but if you're desperate, it's worth noting Thornton is averaging 16 points per game on better than 50 percent shooting from the floor in four games with his new team, after scoring 16 on Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. … In a similar vein, Ronald Murray's looking like a pretty good play with the Chicago Bulls; in his past three games, he's averaging nearly 15 points per game while making some 3s. He had a really nice game against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, putting up 16 points, six rebounds, and three steals in 33 minutes of action. … Kevin Martin continued to struggle for the Houston Rockets in his first game in the starting lineup, finishing with 19 points but shooting just 5-for-14 from the floor against the Orlando Magic. I still think there's a lot of promise here, but it may take him a couple of weeks to get used to his new system. … If you haven't been paying attention, Manu Ginobili has looked a lot like his old self of late, and is putting up some huge fantasy numbers. In his past five games, he's averaging 20.8 points, 5.2 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 2.0 3s, along with great percentages. He'll go through some rough patches statistically because the San Antonio Spurs will always rest him when they can, but right now he's looking like a top-20 player the rest of the way. … Darko Milicic -- despite playing just 10 minutes and not scoring a point for the Minnesota Timberwolves in their loss to the Atlanta Hawks -- continued his possible ascension back to fantasy relevance by blocking four shots. It's going to be hard to ignore him if he keeps blocking two or more shots per game, no matter how bad his other stats are. … Drew Gooden finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes for the Los Angeles Clippers in their win against the Detroit Pistons, and should be a good source of points and rebounds for the coming weeks.

Looking ahead

With Paul Pierce out and Marquis Daniels questionable for the Boston Celtics for Thursday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, it's definitely a good night to get Tony Allen in your lineup. Allen's not a good long-term option, but he's a good bet to score some points and rack up a few steals if he plays more than 30 minutes, and there's a good chance that'll happen Thursday. … Obviously (considering the huge numbers he's putting up lately), the Golden State Warriors' C.J. Watson should be in your lineup against the Nuggets, and should stay there, along with Anthony Morrow, at least until Corey Maggette returns from his strained hamstring. … John Salmons should be in your lineup every night now that he's getting huge minutes for the Bucks, but it's worth noting that he has torched the Pacers (his Thursday night opponent) for 19 points per game on 67 percent shooting from the floor in two games so far this season.

Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for



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