Kayla Thornton has re-signed with the Dallas Wings after looking like she has found her home in the league.
Kayla Thornton started her career by signing a training camp contract back in 2015 with the Washington Mystics. She was waived after playing just 10 games for the franchise. She then was not signed to a team in 2016 before signing a training camp contract with the Dallas Wings prior to the 2017 season.
It is easy to say that Thornton has not looked back after that moment. She appeared in every one of the Wings games in 2017, even starting one. Her averages of 6.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 0.6 steals per game were respectable, especially in 17.2 minutes per game.
The 6’1 forward then appeared in all 34 games in the 2018 season. However, she started 32 of them. Her averages improved to 9.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 steals per game. It would be easy to explain these numbers improving thanks to her increased minutes which were 28.6 per game.
If you did this you would be doing the improved play of Thornton a disservice. Against bench units in 2017, Thornton’s slash line was 41.2/27.9/80.0 which is not bad. Against starters in 2018 Thornton had a slash line of 44.7/35.5/86.0 which shows that she improved her efficiency and shot selection.
Having Liz Cambage to occupy defenders inside would have helped but Thornton looked like she belonged last season. This season she is going to be asked to step it up again. Without Skylar Diggins-Smith, Cambage or Karima Christmas-Kelly in the starting lineup, the Dallas Wings are going to be a totally different team, one with a lot less firepower.
It is going to be fascinating to watch the different lineups and game plans new coach Brian Agler is going to implement to keep the Wings in the playoffs. One thing is for sure, Kayla Thornton should be a big part of this.
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