Last Year Dallas Wings forward Kayla Thornton took a step forward. Can she continue this in the 2018 season?
By Matt Hallett
The 2017 season was a mini-breakout year for Kayla Thornton and the Dallas Wings are thankful for it. As a rookie in 2015, Thornton played with the Washington Mystics. She played 10 games averaging 8.8 minutes, 2.2 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.
In 2017 Thornton averaged 17.2 minutes, 6.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game which is a marked increase. On top of this, Thornton went from 0.1 assists in 2015 to 0.9 assists in 2017.
Now, going at just under one assist per game is not going to set the WNBA on fire. However, what it does indicate is Thornton is much more at home in the Wings offense. Thornton is much more active and involved in the Wings style of play.
However, this upcoming season, due to the signing of Liz Cambage, the Wings will modify their offense in order to best utilize the Australian's size and skill to their full advantage.
This is going to mean, when Cambage is on the floor, Dallas is going to want to surround her with three-point shooters. Luckily for Thornton, this is an area of her game she has also stepped up.
In her rookie season, Thornton took a single shot from beyond the arc, missing it. However, playing for the Wings in 2017, Thornton made 17 of 61 from deep. While this is only 27.9 percent from deep, it shows Thornton is willing to work to improve herself.
You can bet in this off-season, Thornton has been practicing her 3-ball a lot, probably stepping it up when the Cambage announcement realigned the power structure in the WNBA.
Court time is going to be at a premium at the power forward spot on the floor. Theresa Plaisance will take the backup center minutes and will also play with Cambage, spacing the floor with her range.
With Glory Johnson and Karima Christmas-Kelly on the team as well, Thornton will have to prove her worth to get court time each and every night. With the work ethic and results I have seen, I strongly believe Thornton will do this and continue to carve out a niche for herself on this up and coming Wings team.
One thing is for certain, this young and exciting team are going to be worth watching and Kayla Thornton will hopefully be an integral part of this growth.