Marcus Thornton has emerged as a surprise starter with the Rockets by showing he can do more than just shoot, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. Thornton is enjoying a career revival as the team’s small forward, averaging 16.6 points and making a team-best 40.5% of his 3-point attempts, but his overall contributions have kept him on the floor, Feigen continues. “He’s a very good passer,” Houston coach Kevin McHale told Feigen. “He’s a good on-ball defender.” Thornton believes that McHale’s confidence in him has led to his strong start. “I always had a lot more to show,” Thornton said to Feigen. “Just now, I’ve been in the right position to show it.”
In other news around the Southwest Division:
- The only viable trade bait that the struggling Pelicans have to offer are their draft picks, according to Tom Ziller of SBNation.com. It would be difficult to move any of their rotation pieces because of injuries and/or contract status but the Pelicans do not owe any future first-rounders, Ziller continues in his analysis of the team’s slow start. Based upon GM Dell Demps’ history and the Pelicans’ mandate to make the playoffs, New Orleans is likely to dangle those picks on the trade market in an effort to turn its season around, Ziller believes.
- Ray McCallum has gotten buried on the Spurs’ bench but is trying to make the best of the situation and remain patient, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News reports. McCallum is currently the team’s third option at point guard behind Tony Parker and Patty Mills and has been learning from the players ahead of him in the rotation, Orsborn continues. Coach Gregg Popovich told Orsborn that McCallum is still settling in after getting traded by the Kings. “He’s probably a little bit confounded right now, trying to figure out what’s going on,” Popovich said. “Some of that has to happen in his own mind, and get some sort of comfort level before they can help him too much.”
- David West has been in the league a long time but he’s still opening eyes with his playmaking, Orsborn writes in a separate piece. The 13-year Spurs power forward had a six-assist outing off the bench against the Hornets last week. “Even from open gym, I realized he was better than I thought,” shooting guard Manu Ginobili told Orsborn. “He’s a willing passer, too. He’s looking for passes, looking for cutters. He can hit a jumper, but he’s also willing to pass.”