[This was in reply to WestsideBrandon regarding Al Thornton, here]
I don't think I'm suggesting any hasty decisions on Al and I have not used the "low IQ" label in any of my posts or comments. I don't mind if he uses this season to develop but I hate seeing him HURT the team. For as much athleticism and natural ability that he has, shouldn't he have more rebounds or steals? Can't he focus on things other than shooting jumpshots that can help his team win?
Compared to Q Ross
Is it my imagination or wasn't Q Ross a 20 point per game scorer in college? Yet when he came to the Clippers his jumpshot wasn't reliable. But he didn't keep jacking up shots over and over trying to regain his college scoring touch. He focused on what he could do consistently on a nightly basis - play solid defense and make good entry passes to EB or Kaman. He wasn't a star but I liked his energy and I loved how he rarely HURT the team. He took a few shots here and there when he was open - which is what he was supposed to do. For as much as you know he was dying for them to go down, many did not. But you could not blame losses on him. I don't feel the same about Al.
Compared to Cuttino
Actually when I watch Al it really reminds me of how much this team misses Corey and Cuttino. I really liked the fact that Cuttino CHOSE the Clippers in free agency and he was so smart in stripping the ball on defense that it made up for some of the crazy shots he took. But obviously he was a veteran and his game was much more refined. He took risky shots that he earned the right to take, by being a smart seasoned vet. Years of solid play gave him the right to jack up some low percentage shots. I feel like he was pretty clutch for the Clips and when they went in you cheered and when they didn't - you rarely felt like someone else on the team could have done significantly better or had that much of a better chance.
I feel like Al IS a big part of Clipper losses. I believe other guys on the team could do better in many situations where he gets the ball and shoots instead of passing.
I don't have higher standards for Al as a second year player. Before that one game this year (I forgot which game it was, but he repeatedly drove the lane for dunks and finished strong at the rim) I figured Al was just an average sophomore player and my expectations were low. But after seeing him take it to the rack hard AND FINISH in that game he spoiled me! WHY KEEP TAKING JUMP SHOTS WHEN YOU CAN DRIVE THE LANE AND DUNK? WHY?
It seems like he's trying to pattern his game after Mobley when his body and style dictate a more Maggette type of drive and get fouled type of game. I know there are many who hated Corey's selfish drives and lame toss ups while getting fouled, but his game fit the Clippers offensive identity. It gave them a variety of weapons.
The Clipper Weapons Were and Should Be...
Weapon One. Go down low to Kaman or Brand, guards ready to slash or cut for a layup or rebound. (Now Zach or Kaman)
Weapon Two. Clear out. Let Sam I Am back a smaller guard down for a close turnaround jumpshot, bigs ready to rebound a miss. (Now Baron Davis)
Weapon Three. If defenders come to double weapons One or Two - kick out to Mobley for a wide open three, bigs ready to rebound. (Now Eric Gordon)
Weapon Four. If defenders close out on weapon three or the 3 balls have not been going in, pass to a slashing Magette who either makes a layup or gets fouled while trying. Go to the line, make your free throws and give your guys a breather and a chance to setup on defense. (AL THORNTON should now fill this role)
But instead of driving as soon as he gets the ball he does the same lame shaky foot dance for two seconds and THEN decides to drive into defenders, getting called for a charge or worse, rises up for a high difficulty jumpshot.
It ruins the timing and flow of the offense and it's more of a problem than just expecting too much from a second year player.
What I Want to See From Al Thornton
Al needs to take less jumpshots and drive smarter into the lane, protect the ball, use his body to create space to avoid getting so many shots blocked, or simply go SO hard for a dunk, defenders get out of his way - like Kobe, LeBron, Wade (Yes, I actually believe Al can dunk just as well or hard as they can and NO I'm not putting him on their level. Just talking about dunking. I've seen him slam it down. He has the ability to do it.)
I know that's a lot to ask and it's not as easy to dunk in traffic as some players make it seem...but I want to see him working on that. I'd rather see him getting called for charges while he smashes on people, than constantly shooting turnaround fadeaway jumpers. I want to see agression to the rim. Even if he misses, Zach or Camby might be able to get a rebound or a putback.
As much as he frustrates me, I still like Al and his potential. I just want him to play smarter.