Because of a dominant Eastern Conference run in the spring of 2015, Tristan Thompson and his reps decided he was a max player. The Rich Paul group tried to hold the Cavs hostage until they surveyed the landscape and finally figured out no one was going to leverage their roster so Thompson could get a fatter payday, one he didn’t deserve. The Paul group came down to earth a little and settled on a $82 million dollar deal which would keep the Toronto native in a Cavs uniform until the end of LeBron James career (if LeBron doesn’t bolt to L.A. first).
Make no mistake, $82 mil was a grotesque amount of money for a player whose career highs are 11.7 points and 9.4 rebounds. Four out of his six NBA seasons, Thompson has averaged less than thirty minutes a game. This season, he scored 9 points or less 47 times. But he had 10+ rebounds 37 times.
Thompson is a specialist, a nose for the ball rebounder with innate instincts around the rim. Most of what he does will never find its way to a boxscore. They are the details that in the last five minutes win the game or lose the game: boxing out, offensive boards, rotating to the weak side, shot blocking, hustle, fire, intensity, will.
Once the Cavs decided to go small and start Thompson at center, they ran amok in the Eastern Conference, like a bully in a crowd of scared 10 year-olds, and Thompson admits he’s not out there to score but to hustle and keep possessions alive.
Thompson had a consistent regular season. 60.0% shooting, a career high. 9.2 rebounds, the second best of his career. 1.1 blocks, a career high.
In the Finals is where Tristan Thompson has been a mess compared to last year.
|Tristan Thompson||Points||Fg %||Rebounds|
In three games of the Finals, he is shooting 36% with almost 4 rebounds. Last year in the Finals he shot 63% with a dominant 8.5 rebounds. He is playing worse. It’s not even close. He is not a $82 million dollar player. He can’t compete when the Warriors trot out seven footer JaVale McGhee.
Tonight, the most important game of the Cavs season, Thompson has to have an epic performance. Thompson is no different than the rest of the Cavs. They have been kept in check by the Warriors swarming defense of quick hands and bodies. Thompson was outrebounded in game three by Kyrie Irving. That is a humiliating stat. Furthermore, in game 3, the Cavs missed 50 shots. They had 10 offensive rebounds off of those misses, 20%. Of the 50 missed shots, Thompson pulled in 1 offensive board. It was Tristan Thompson, the ghost, who showed up in Cleveland in game 3.
He played 23 minutes on Wednesday. He played less minutes than slow, ancient Kyle Korver. Thompson is too small when the Warriors go big. He is too limited to keep on the floor because he can’t make shots at a consistent clip.
Thompson has to play big tonight. But the Cavs best hopes may be Thompson on the bench.
photo via llananba