I contacted SBNation's LSU blog- And the Valley Shook- to get some opinions on Thornton from people that had actually watched him play, unlike the majority of draft analysts, experts, and, uh, me. They were kind enough to answer some of my questions about him.
@tH: What kind of offense did Trent Johnson run at LSU last year, and what was Thornton's expected role in the system?
ATVS: I don't think I know enough to really give a name to the offense. I suppose it was a motion-type offense, but it also relied a good bit on an individual making a play. Marcus Thornton was the 2-guard, and filled in at point guard at times.
@tH: The Hornets desperately needed a creative scorer this last season. How would you assess Thornton from a creative standpoint? Does he have any go-to moves, can he create separation from defenders, and can he create for others?
ATVS: Marcus Thornton can create his own shot, but I don't think he's a guy who is going to create a lot of offense for other players. He's a shooter. Earlier, I compared him to former Detroit Piston Vinnie Johnson, and it's a comparison I still like. He has a terrific shot, and he's good at getting it off against taller defenders because he has a natural falling-back action to his jump shot. He's also very strong going inside against bigger players. He really has the potential to be a remarkable offensive player in that respect.
@tH: Since Thornton is 6'3", I assume opponents ran out taller defenders against him. How much did this impede his offensive game, if at all?
ATVS: In college, teams run out who they have, and you couldn't really run out big defenders against Thornton, because we had bigger players out there. College teams don't really have enough 6'7" players on the roster to be throwing one of them at a 2-guard. That said, he occasionally faced off against some taller defenders like Jodie Meeks. He did very well against those guys because, as mentioned earlier, his shot naturally falls back. I think a really tall defender could give him trouble, because while he can get his shot off against 6'4" or 6'5" players, I've never seen him go against someone with NBA-type length.
@tH: One thing that really intrigued me about Thornton was his very low turnover rate in college. What would you say contributed to this most (decision making, dribbling, etc)?
ATVS: I don't really have an explanation for it. He didn't really take a lot of chances with the ball. If he wasn't in scoring position, he would either make a move to get in scoring position or give the ball up. He didn't really handle the ball all that much and did not run the offense. I don't recall him making a lot of high-risk passes or trying to dribble through 3 people.
@tH: Any funny stories or favorite games of Thornton?
ATVS: As of right now, I can't really think of any. He won a LOT of games for us with his offense. There was one stretch of the past season when he scored 30+ in several consecutive games, but he was so consistently good on offense that it's hard to pick out any individual games.