With the Cleveland Cavaliers struggling with a 9-30 record, good for second-worst in the league, there are very few bright spots to be seen. One being Kyrie Irving, a future superstar who’s making his case for being a top-3 point guard in just his second season in the NBA. Another is the performance of veteran center Anderson Varejao, although he’s been affected by a barrage of injuries lately. And then there’s Canadian-born Tristan Thompson, who’s been making a good enough impact on this squad to perhaps solidify his future with this team after being drafted fourth overall in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Thompson spent most of his rookie season finding his role with a young, inexperienced, and lowly Cavaliers team. In just 23.7 minutes a night, Thompson averaged 8.2 points a night, on 43.9% shooting from the field, noticeably low for a big man of his stature. 6’9″ and 225 pounds forms an ideal body for an NBA forward, and Thompson’s athleticism makes him all the more valuable physically. His game, though still raw, has taken strides since his rookie season that didn’t quite meet expectations.
This season, Thompson has started every game for the Cavs thus far, with the team instilling their trust into the young forward out of the University of Texas. He has made a pleasant improvement in his offense, with noticeable increases in his FG% (43.9% to 48.3%) FT% (55.2% to 61.9%) and Offensive Rating (98 to 107.) His 1.7 point increase in scoring per game seems minuscule, but he’s done so with a lower usage percentage then last season, a drop from 19.2% to 15.9%. Another positive is that with Tristan playing nearly 10 more minutes per game, his turnovers per contest has gone from 1.4 to just 1.5 showing a lot of control out of Thompson.
These past ten games is where Thompson has really made a mark. He’s averaged 13.3 points and 11.4 boards a night on 51.4% shooting form the field and a very solid 76.7% from the free throw line. In this stretch the Cavaliers have been 3-7, which is poor, yet at the same time is an improvement for these Cavaliers. As a whole, Thompson has made a strong enough impact on this team to justify his holding a starting position for the wine and gold for the foreseeable future. He owns the second highest on-the-court team NetRTG on the team and has shown terrific signs of becoming an excellent big man.
He is a lefty, making him a unique guard for defenders. His athleticism makes him a viable finisher, which is always good when you have a point guard of Kyrie Irving’s ability beside you on the court. His defensive fundamentals are there, as per Synergy Sport he allows just .75 points per possession, good for 33th best in the entire league. He’s shown only very basic post moves but with only a year and a half under his belt there’s no doubt there is no ceiling on Tristan Thompson.
And the Cleveland Cavaliers cannot wait to see where this kid helps take them.