“Leadership is both a research area and practical skill encompassing the ability of an individual or organization to ‘lead’ or guide other individuals, teams, or an entire organization.”
During the 2019-20 season, Tristan Thompson has made it crystal clear who the leader on this team is. He’s been vocal on and off the court, a mentor, and has been leading by example. He’s having arguably his best year and while many may attribute that to it being a contract year, that may not be the case. His numbers aren’t much different than recent years, but he’s making his presence felt. It appears as if he’s taken it upon himself to step up because it needed to be done.
Last night, in the win against the Detroit Pistons, we saw his leadership skills on full display in every facet. With a career-high 35 points along with 14 rebounds, three blocks and three assists he became just the second Cavalier with that stat-line; I’m sure you can guess the other guy. What’s more impressive is that he hit two clutch free-throws to tie the game, sending it to overtime. He physically moved guard Darius Garland to the correct spot on a crucial inbounds play (which lead to a bucket) and the very next Cavalier position he took over in the huddle and drew up an inbounds play. That right there is what leaders do.
His play was the perfect blueprint for leading by example, but those other things were an attempt to put his teammates in the best position to learn and succeed. Those things make him an invaluable part of the future of this franchise. There’s no passive-aggressive tweets, no tantrums on the court, no fighting with the coaching staff or front office; he’s there to play, learn and teach. He plays at 150% every night and he’s the perfect example of how the rest of the roster should move. Because of his production, the Cavaliers will surely get offers, but because his numbers aren’t blowing anyone away, those offers probably won’t be worth it. I’m a believer that the Cavs NEED him on this roster.
They need his strength, passion, dedication and most importantly – his leadership. He’s young, has been on terrible teams and won a championship; the young guys on the roster and the young guys that will inevitably be on the roster will listen to what he has to say. He’s straight forward and isn’t afraid to pull his guys aside to correct mistakes, but he’s also not above acknowledging his own. Amid all the rumble from the “slugs vs. thugs” debate, he came out and played hard, which resulted in a Cavalier win. Last night’s game reminded me of the first 10 or so games of the season, back when they were looking like a potential playoff team. They ran the ball through him. They let him play his game and abled him to exploit his defenders.
Whether or not Kevin Love gets traded is up for debate. His recent play and tantrums might be ruining his ability to be moved, but I think we can all agree that he has never been a leader. If anything, he’s regressed even more in that particular department this season. But where he’s fallen off, Tristan has stepped up immensely and with such a young team that’s bound to get even younger, that is a crucial part of their growth. To trade a man that’s elevated his play and has seemingly dedicated himself to teaching the younger players would be a disservice to not only Cavs fans, but the young men on the roster as well. It’s time for those within the Cavalier organization to start working on extending Tristan’s contract.