There are very few guarantees in the life of an NBA player drafted in the second round. For Los Angeles Clippers rookie Sindarius Thornwell, he’s just trying to prove he belongs.
Thornwell, the No. 48 overall pick out of South Carolina in the 2017 NBA Draft, has had an impressive training camp for the Clippers, and he wants to take that one step further. The goal is playing time, and if the preseason is any indication, he’s well on his way.
A 6-foot-5 shooting guard, Thornwell is a versatile player who can play both ends of the floor. He played for noted college coach Frank Martin, who has made defense a staple of his program. That two-way nature will benefit the Clippers rookie.
“With coach (Martin), if you’re not playing defense, you’re not playing, so I want to play defense,” Thornwell told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s natural and easy for me to do that.”
Thornwell has also received the encouragement of his teammates. DeAndre Jordan said the rookie should prepare himself for a move to LA, signifying a long-term stay. And Wesley Johnson has noted his aggressiveness and confidence, saying that the veterans have told the rookie guard to “play his game.”
He’s a quick study, too. “I pick up stuff real easy,” Thornwell said. “I know that if someone has to tell you something twice, they move on to the next person.”
Head coach Doc Rivers is seemingly a believer. Thornwell’s minutes have increased with each passing preseason game. After debuting in four minutes, Thornwell worked his way up to a 22-minute stint in the team’s most recent game. He scored 14 points–including 2-for-3 on three-point attempts–and grabbed five rebounds.
Thornwell also has one of the best from whom to learn. Playing alongside Lou Williams, a perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate, should only help the youngster grow. For the foreseeable future, Thornwell’s most valuable role will likely come in a bench capacity, so he will need to learn how to be effective in those limited minutes.
If the preseason is any indication, though, his role could become larger than even he had anticipated. For more Clippers news and tickets to select home games, keep it here on AXS.com.