Tristan Thompson’s Improvement is Surprising & Great For Cavs

Going into the season, I doubt anyone expected Tristan Thompson to be playing as well as he has been through the first 10 games. His first eight seasons were mediocre, with the occasional stretch of games that made you wonder where this player had been hiding. Minus his ability to rebound, he was extremely inconsistent. However, to start the 2019/20 campaign, he’s averaging 16.5ppg, 11.4rpg, all while shooting nearly 55% from the field. While those stats are great and a huge jump from his previous numbers, his aggression on both ends of the floor is what’s most impressive. He’s taken on the role of a vocal leader on and off the floor, even going as far as to say that his personal goal for the season is to make first-team All-Defense. While it’s yet to be seen whether or not that will come to fruition, the fact that he’s mentally prepared to do what it takes to even be mentioned with some of the leagues’ best stoppers shows that he’s elevated as both a player and a leader. 

We’ve come to expect Tristan to grab rebounds on both ends of the floor. That’s the one area of his game that fans couldn’t question. Yet, this year, he’s found a way to play an all-around complete game. He’s averaging 2.3apg, which doesn’t wow you, but he’s 3rd on the team, only behind Darius Garland and Kevin Love and to help make his case as a defensive stopper, he’s averaging 1.4bpg. Again, not a number that doesn’t wow you, but it’s a start. He offensive aggression, yes, you read that right, offensive aggression has earned him a total of eight double-doubles over the first 10 games. Last nights’ game saw him put up 17 & 12 against Joel Embiid. It appears that every night you can now except Tristan to keep up with the opposing teams’ best bigs, even All-Stars like Joel. 

With all that being said, where does that leave him as far as fit on this current Cavalier roster? Of course, he’s helping curate wins (the man has developed a three-point shot,) but with this leap (that could actually be rewarded with a Most Improved trophy if he keeps it up) will come trade rumors. Would the Cavs be willing to part with this new-and-improved version of their starting center? And if so, who/what would they be asking for in return? 

One team that jumps out to me immediately is the Miami Heat. Their current center, Myers Leonard, hasn’t been impressive throughout his first few seasons in the league, but being on a new team could change that. However, given that there are no clear-cut favorites now that the Cavs and Warriors have disbanded, one would think they’re only going to deal with mediocrity for so long. Most of the elite teams in the league are now made up of “dynamic duos” and a good portion of them involve a big. Pairing Tristan with Jimmy Butler doesn’t sound like something anyone would be asking for, but this Tristan would fit perfectly with a player of Jimmy’s caliber. They currently hold at least one pick for the next six years and have a first-rounder in every year minus the 2021 season. A team that holds numerous picks and believes Tristan will aide them in getting over the hump may be willing to part with a first or high second-rounder for the 6’9” center/power forward. 

It’s entirely too early to tell whether or not Tristan will be dealt, but if his current play continues, I’d expect the Cavaliers front office to be receiving calls for the nine-year vet. Having said that, I don’t believe those calls will come in any time soon. His inconsistencies in the past may leave some teams weary, so waiting for a larger sample size would be the smart thing to do. Until then, Cavalier fans can continue to enjoy this surprisingly entertaining squad as they look to compete for a playoff spot; a great deal of that having to do with Tristan Thompson’s play. 

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