NBA Breakout Ballers: This is the fifth installment of a 10 part series spotlighting players that will make a significant leap in the 2015-2016 NBA season. Check out the latest feature on Harrison Barnes . Each player featured in this series are prime prospects to target in season long formats, as well as early season DFS lineups before their prices rise. Let’s get into it!
Over the course of the NBA playoffs, Tristan Thompson has elevated his game to become a vital member for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Upon entering the 2015 regular season, Thompson had some skepticism regarding how he would fit on the court while playing behind Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao. Thompson can be a sought after restricted free agent this offseason and is rumored to have turned down a 4-year, $52 million dollar extension earlier this past January. Despite these question marks, Thompson has become a critical rim protector and double-double machine for the Cavs. In the absence of Kevin Love for a majority of the NBA playoffs, Thompson’s athleticism and hustle on the court has made him a recognizable factor.
Tristan Thompson is a unique player; he finds a way to impact the game while maintaining his efficiency on the court. His hustles while he is on the floor, and continues to do the dirty work on the defensive end. In the NBA Finals, he has shown the willingness to switch onto smaller defenders in pick and roll situations and contest shots along the perimeter.
Thompson’s two-way play within the frontcourt will put pressure on the Cavalier’s front office when coming to a decision to resign him, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving this coming offseason. Cleveland is loaded with expiring contracts and contract options. 8 key members for the Cavs have the potential of becoming free agents, thus giving the organization much to think about heading into the offseason.
Since the post season ending injury of Kevin Love, Thompson has been an absolute monster on the glass. In the four games of the NBA Finals, he has claimed 55 rebounds, 23 of which were on the offensive side. Despite having to differ on the offensive end with LeBron, J.R Smith, and a healthy Kyrie Irving or Love, Thompson still manages a way to create scoring opportunities. Throughout the regular season, Thompson averaged 8.5 points per game and 8 rebounds per game. With an increased role in the playoffs his scoring output has remained constant, while boosting his rebounding average to 10 per game. He is a player who values the possession of the ball by averaging 1.2 blocks and less than 1 turnover per game.
Looking at his resume, Thompson’s numbers display that he is not a player who should be overlooked. Over the past 3 seasons, he has appeared in all 246 regular season games. In his most recent season, his field goal percentage has jumped to 54% compared to a solid career average of 48%. As a full time starter from 2012-2014 he put up nearly 12 points and 9 rebounds per game. Tristan Thompson is not a player who avoids the spotlight and has shown a high level of comfort within big-time situations.
If Tristan Thompson chooses to find a new home in the offseason or resign and remain with the Cavaliers, there is little doubt that his productions should decline. He is a player that appears to take pride in doing the little things while on the court such as setting hard screens and creating opportunities for second chance points. For him it has translated into easy points while shooting a high percentage, and if continues his play within the Finals his minutes should increase next season. Thompson has effectively displayed the potential to play big minutes and be a constant producer for any team.
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