Buckets and the Men He Replaced

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Published: March 24, 2010

After many years of enduring mediocrity from Chris Paul’s back court mates, Hornets fans can finally breathe easy. With Marcus Thornton’s huge performances, non-stop hustle, big plays, and constant scoring, it’s apparent he’s quickly become a quality starting shooting guard in the NBA. More importantly, he’s become The Hornets starting shooting guard.

Thornton is obviously better than the guys he’s essentially replaced, but just how much? Let’s just say that even the die hard Hornets fans will be surprised at how mediocre the shooting guards have been for the past few years, even compared to a rookie like Buckets. It wasn’t until I compiled these stats that it truly set in how poorly guys like Pargo and Brown actually played.

When the team didn’t re-sign Pargo, I kept thinking how much they were going to miss him. Taking a closer look back at his numbers, it’s pretty obvious why Bower and company chose to let him walk, even if they did wind up missing his ability to get off bad shots. No sarcasm at all either. A bad shot is better than no shot or a turnover, and that’s what seemed to be the usual last year from the bench.

Moving on, here’s how Marcus Thornton stacks up statistically this year against guys who have averaged 20 minutes and played at least 40 games (and against JR Smith, who I despise, and Maurice Brooks ranks fourth in the Sixth Man Award race). These are mostly per-40 numbers to account for disparities in playing time.

Player Points Points per shot fg% 3pt% Assists Steals Turnovers Usage PER
Marcus Thornton 23.0 1.19 45.4 39.8 2.2 1.2 1.7 25.6 17.77
JR Smith 21.9 1.11 41.1 34.2 3.6 1.8 2.7 26.5 14.92
SG Average 17.3 1.21 44.3 36.1 3.5 1.3 2.1 20.45 14.41

If any shooting guard should see some sixth man of the year love, it shouldn’t be the ex-Hornet. Thornton is more deserving than J.R. Smith, despite the cast that surrounds them. If Denver wasn’t doing well, J.R. wouldn’t even be mentioned.

Even still, I just don’t see the reasoning behind him being anywhere near an awards table, even if it is just speculation at this point. He’s a below average defender and rebounder, and undeniably isn’t an efficient scorer. How can a pure scorer be pulling 1.11 points per shot and still be in consideration for awards?

Back to the point though- The Hornets haven’t had this kind of production for quite some time. Let’s take a look year by year and see how the Bees of yesteryear fared.

2006-2007
Player Games Points PPS fg% 3pt% AST Steals TO Usage PER
Desmond Mason 75 16.0 1.14 45.2 0.00 1.8 .8 3.0 21.88 10.82
Devin Brown 58 16.1 1.21 42.0 35.7 3.6 1.1 2.2 19.58 14.27
Pargo 82 17.6 1.09 40.9 38.8 4.7 1.2 2.9 23.1 13.89
Buckets (09-10) 63 23.0 1.19 45.4 39.8 2.2 1.2 1.7 25.6 17.77
2007-2008
Player Games Points PPS fg% 3pt% AST TO Steals Usage PER
Bonzi Wells 22 17.6 1.23 49.0 36.8 1.6 2.5 2.2
22.00 13.89
Pargo 80 17.2 .99 39.0 35.1 5.1 2.5 1.3 24.21 12.98
Mo-P 76 13.5 1.17 41.7 39.4 1.5 .9 1.0 15.38 9.79
Buckets (09-10) 63 23.0 1.19 45.5 39.8 2.2 1.7 1.2 25.6 17.77
2008-2009
Player Games Points PPS fg% 3pt% AST TO Steals Usage PER
Mo-P 43 14.8 1.04 39.9 38.8 1.2 1.2 1.2 19.23 10.66
Devin Brown 63 15.1 1.05 35.5 28.9 2.5 2.5 1.5 22.81 9.84
The Phoenix 82 14.1 1.14 43.3 39.0 1.1 .9 .8 16.76 10.49

Buckets (09-10)

63 23.0 1.19 45.5 39.8 2.2 1.7 1.2 25.6 17.77
2009-2010
Player Games Points PPS fg% 3pt% AST Steals TO Usage PER
Devin Brown 39 15.7 1.16 39.4 36.7 2.4 1.2 2.4 19.8 11.00
Mo-P 36 13.4 1.07 40.4 37.5 1.8 1.0 1.2 16.8 9.13
Buckets 63 23.0 1.19 45.5 39.8 2.2 1.2 1.7 25.6 17.77

I’m sure you get the drift, so I won’t bother going into any further details.

Sure is nice to have found a diamond in the rough. One more find like Marcus and the Bees could be buzzing deep into the postseason next year.

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