Marcus Thornton has gone 15-straight games without scoring at least 15 points, which is the first time that has happened in his entire career. A former 18.7 points per game scorer, Thornton has seen his production decline in the past two seasons, which is why he ended up with the Boston Celtics this offseason as a giveaway player.
At only 27-years-old, Thornton will enter free agency next summer, so his agent Tony Dutt was concerned about his potential lack of opportunities in Boston.
"Our biggest concern is whether he will get an opportunity to play. At the end of the day, he wants an opportunity to showcase his talents. I have been told that he will get that opportunity," Dutt told CSNNE back in July.
More on Marcus Thornton
More on Marcus Thornton
So far this season, Thornton is playing a career-low 14.9 minutes per game, and he played a season-low of just six minutes on Wednesday versus Detroit. However, he has been active in his limited time on the court, as the Celtics have run a number of different actions to get him quality looks.
Thornton has actually been quite effective, as he's draining a career-high 39.4 percent of his three-pointers, with a relatively efficient 49.5 eFG percentage. He's also finding his place in Brad Stevens' motion-offense, with a career-best 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio.
But still, Thornton isn't seeing the sheer volume that he once saw before, since Boston's bench features Evan Turner, Marcus Smart, Phil Pressey, and Gerald Wallace, who all deserve minutes just as much as he does.
Boston's crowded depth chart is precisely why Thornton isn't getting the same amount of opportunities that he has seen in the past. In his five-year career before joining the Celtics, it took him an average of 2.7 games to score at least 15 points, with a median of just two games; his previous longest-drought came in December 2013, when he went 12-straight games without reaching that mark.
15 is certainly an arbitrary number, but it's a solid barometer for a player who signed a four-year, $31.15 million contract extension in 2011 due to his ability to have explosive nights scoring the basketball. With Boston, that just hasn't happened.
Now, with Smart working his way back to full strength, Stevens showing more trust in Pressey, and even Wallace receiving spot-minutes, on-court chances for Thornton could shrink even more.
You have to wonder if behind closed doors both Thornton and Dutt are becoming increasingly concerned about his place on the roster, even though there has been no indication so far. Thornton hasn't been pouting, at least on the court, and he's still putting out maximum effort on the defensive end of the floor, which is something he hasn't done since he was a young player in New Orleans.
Whether or not Thornton finds a larger role in the rotation at some point this season is unpredictable, but it might be in the best interest of the Celtics to look for a trading partner anyway. Even though Thornton's potential big scoring nights do hold some value off the bench, it could be of much greater use to a contending team in need of a sparkplug.
Thornton's playing style and his $8.6 million expiring contract combine to make for a valuable piece that could be used in a trade later on, netting them a package very similar to the conditional first round draft pick they received for Jordan Crawford last season.
The Celtics are stuck in a transition phase, but they're still raring to make blockbuster moves next offseason, so picking up even more potentially valuable assets for players that aren't "on the bus" next season seems like a no-brainer, if the opportunity comes.
And if it does, everything could certainly work out for both the Boston Celtics and Marcus Thornton after all.