Tristan Thompson, Stock Rising
Dislocated shoulder, out for the remainder of the playoffs with surgery up in the air.
That was the prognosis for Cleveland’s Kevin Love after getting tangled up with Kelly Olynyk in the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-0 sweep of the Boston Celtics in the first round match-up of the 2015 NBA playoffs.
The loss was supposed to be a crushing blow to the Cavs.
They weren’t supposed to beat the Chicago Bulls 4-2 in the second round.
They definitely weren’t supposed to sweep (4-0) the Atlanta Hawks, the number one team, in the Eastern conference finals.
But they did, and within this incredible process the Cavs have found their new, young, Canadian star, in the making.
A bruising, punishing, relentless competitor, Tristan Thompson has officially arrived in the NBA.
What’s more is that the 23-year-old, fourth overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, is the X factor for the Cleveland Cavaliers during their 2015 playoff run to the finals.
Before he made it to the NBA, Thompson always had a vision that was forward thinking, one that had NBA All-Star goals in mind. As a result, this mentality has driven the Brampton, Ontario native to continue elevating his game.
It’s impossible to single down one exact point that makes Thompson such a asset to the Cavaliers, so here’s three of them.
Thompson has the physical gifts that allow him to play basketball at the highest level.
Standing at 6 foot 9 inches, Thompson has an incredible 7-1-¼ inch wingspan.
Couple that with his 35 inch vertical, 6.2 body fat percentage, and 227 pound frame and you have an ELITE athlete.
This is the “God given” talent that Thompson was born with, and to put his intangibles into perspective, his length and height are comparable to those of Josh Smith and James Johnson.
Now those are some good genes.
Measurements are God given; motor, energy, and effort are not.
The biggest indicators of Thompson’s high motor skills are his offensive rebounding skills.
Thompson currently ranks second in NBA playoffs offensive rebounding category with 56 in total, only trailing Dwight Howard who has 59.
The offensive rebounding has always been a strong suit for Thompson, who averaged 3.8 during his one season at Texas.
Offensive rebounding is one of the hardest skills in basketball because it is based on hard work, effort, and desire.
It is also a very physical aspect of the game, as players are deep in the paint, fighting in order to get position, all the while being tougher than your opponent.
Thompson has ELITE toughness, and physicality, proving that he is willing to mix it up with anyone in the NBA.
Changing your shooting hand from left-to-right, or the other way around is not a common practice in the NBA.
In fact, besides Thompson, I can’t think of another player that has accomplished, or even tried this feat.
The change was supposed to help Thompson’s free-throw shooting ability, which hasn’t happened, at least yet.
What has happened, however, is the increase in Thompson’s field goal percentage.
Thompson had a great regular season, with his biggest improvement coming on his efficiency.
In his first three seasons with the Cavs, Thompson never shot the ball over 50% from the field, with his career field goal percentage hovering at 47%.
This year he finished at 54%.
In the playoffs it has risen to 59%.
Admittedly, the acquisition of LeBron James has something to do with the rise, as Thompson has been able to take and make more shots in the paint this year, leading to a higher shooting percentage.
But just as much should be said about a player that is able to use both hands, effectively, down low.
Thompson turned down a 52 million dollar contract before the start of the season as he knew he was worth more.
If the Cavs are able to win the NBA championship, the first in Cleveland history, the price tag on the Canadian forward, deservedly, will skyrocket, and all that will be left for sports fans to ponder is whether the Kevin Love-Andrew Wiggins trade was worth it?
That’s another issue for another time. In the meantime, Thompson’s stock continues to rise.