I know I just posted last night, and I know I am supposed to be on this epic Tour de Grapefruit League, but Bill Simmons, ESPN.com's "The Sports Guy", just strolled into one of my areas of interest: Florida State Basketball. Greetings, Bill.
In today's Basketball Blog, Simmons writes:
I've only seen bits and pieces of Al Thornton, and I know he's 23 years old, and I know the game went into OT, and I know Miami sucks ... but 45 points in a college basketball game? I'm officially intrigued. Al, I have the TiVo set for your next game.
Shamefully, I wasn't going to post about the FSU-Miami game over the weekend because I didn't see it. I am a poor excuse for a fan, I know, but I was out of town at the Dodgers-Nationals game and couldn't catch a telecast. Needless to say, however, Al Thornton went off again, scoring 45 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and blocking four shots. Thorton's 45 points were one off of the FSU record and put him over 20 points per game on the season. And he apparently got Bill Simmons to stop drooling over Kevin Durant for a moment and watch some FSU basketball. Which in itself is an accomplishment.
So what can Bill Simmons expect? Well, first of all, Thornton is one of the most complete players to come from FSU in recent years. He will be playing in the NBA next year as most mock draft sites have him going anywhere from 10th to somewhere in the mid-20s. Thornton comparisons range from Phoenix Suns star Shawn Marion to current NBA role players James Posey and Hakim Warrick. So Bill, you are obviously watching an NBA talent, and it is never too late to buy an Al's Pals t-shirt.
Although no one can accurately predict any draft pick until the actual pick is made, allow me to segue from Bill Simmons' praise to where Al Thornton might go in the 2007 NBA draft. Like I mentioned, most sites have him going anywhere from 10th to the end of the first round. I even saw one site that didn't have him listed. But let's look at two of the more interesting predictions that have Al Thornton going to teams I think he can make a definite impact on.
NBADraft.net has possibly the highest Thornton draft selection, predicting he will go to Minnesota with the 10th pick. I like this prediction, and not just because of the high selection. Although the Timberwolves currently feature recent draft pick Randy Foye and veterans Ricky Davis and Mike James at the guard and small forward positions, respectively, I think Thorton's offensive game would mesh well with the T-Wolves.
Mockdraftcity.com has Thornton going slightly lower to my New York Knicks at the 20th pick. According to ESPN, as of March 4th, the Knicks don't have the 20th pick, they have either the 22nd or the 12th, pending a possible selection swap with the Chicago Bulls. As mentioned, Al Thornton falls in this range. Could Thornton fit with the Knicks? Could I be any happier seeing a player I have watched since his freshman year playing for my favorite NBA team? With Isiah Thomas' penchant for athletic swingmen, I can definitely see them drafting him. He is taller than Jamal Crawford, better offensively than Jared Jeffries, and has been a better 3-point shooter at the college level than Quentin Richardson. Far be it for me to be a homer, but I can see Thorton definitely helping in the Big Apple as well.
Anyway, welcome to the Al Thornton fan club, Bill Simmons. I do hope you TiVo every game FSU plays in the ACC tournament this week. Not only do I like their chances to do something special, but you might even see me. I'll be the guy with the big "Need Ticket" sign outside the forum.
UPDATE: Florida State will definitely have their hands full this ACC Tournament. They have Clemson, who defeated the Noles twice this year, followed by North Carolina in Round 2. Sheesh.