After hearing that Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson switched from shooting lefty to right-handed, I began to ponder what type of player Tristan Thompson is and could/will be.
Apparently, this switch of the shooting hand is the first of its kind in NBA history, and had its competitive debut in a pair of games Thompson played for his home country Canada’s national team. In the first game, Tristan was a mere 2-9 from the floor and missed both his free throw attempts. But in the second match against the Jamaican national side, Thompson earned the player of the game going 6-11 for 16 points, including two crucial free throws in the final two minutes of play.
These mixed results in a mere span of two games doesn’t prove much of anything, but one can understand nerves playing some part in the first game using his right; the
second game was a hopeful showing and Thompson’s offseason work on his shooting has apparently been an improvement.
Improvement is a great word to describe Thompson’s play from his rookie year to last season. Boosting his averages in every category but blocks, Thompson came up just short of averaging a double-double in a season where he found himself having to fill the void left by Anderson Varejao’s absence; Varejao was the leading the league in rebounds before having to miss the last 56 games of the season after developing a blood clot in his lung. At the end of last season, Tristan found himself in the NBA’s top 20 in double-doubles; he was even shown some love in the voting for the NBA’s Most Improved Player.
All the improvement aside, concerns about Thompson have come in a number of areas. His under 50 percent shooting average is not optimal for a player in his position, and seems to be the motivation for his new shooting approach; the ambidexterity may also help in the post, where 82games.com shows that Thompson has about half of his “close” shots blocked. This also stems from his undersized 6-foot-9 frame, another concern in Tristan’s development.
While Thompson improved his free throw mark from rookie to sophomore year in the league, he still only shoots 60% from the line but progress in this category will depend on his new shot.
Concerns about his shooting are discerning, but yet again that remains unseen until the coming season. Though he his undersized, Thompson will find his role with a healthy Varejao and Andrew Bynum as a counter of imposition in the Cleveland front court. With young team that has Kyrie Irving leading the break, Thompson can utilize his athletic ability to beat opposing big men down the court, as can teammate Tyler Zeller.
Some soucres have credited Thompson’s improvement due to the lack of big of a post presence on the Cavalier’s roster last year after Anderson Varejao’s season was cut short. Time will only tell with Tristan Thompson and this season may be the most pivotal for him to showcase his value and upside that he can bring with an all-around improved front court Cleveland boasts this coming season.