I was out yesterday, and so I caught the Browns game on the radio. When the Cavs tipped off I was trying to keep tabs on that game through my phone while listening to the Browns and trying not to completely ignore my family. Right before the Cavaliers went to halftime, I checked in and saw the boxscore. The Cavs were down six. I saw that Irving was leading the team in scoring, and then I looked for Tristan’s line. He had 4 points if I remember correctly, hadn’t missed a shot but had played only 5 minutes.
I was kind of curious about why Thompson would have such limited playing time. (My curiosity would only increase when reading about Coach Scott’s halftime rant about effort and energy.) In the second half, Thompson would not enter until 5 minutes were left in the third quarter. I took to twitter to find out if he had been hurt or if he had gotten in Scott’s doghouse. I was assured that he hadn’t been injured, and nobody seemed to know of any rift between him and coach.
Thompson would play 12 more minutes the rest of the game, and very productive ones at that.He finished the game with 17 minutes of floor time, which is exactly what he has played now in 3 of the Cavaliers 4 games.
During my twitter questioning, a follower suggested that Thompson should be starting. I thought about that and decided I would much rather have him coming off the bench. At least for now. I’ll explain why.
First, if you haven’t seen Kirk’s piece on Tristan from the weekend, you need to read it. In it he discusses why Tristan is turning out to be more than most thought he would be when the Cavs drafted him.
I would add that Tristan is in a perfect position right now. Normally, the fourth pick in the draft would be under a lot of pressure to produce for his team. With Kyrie Irving going to the Cavs in front of him, Thompson has been given a pass of sorts. He isn’t the one SportsCenter is looking for when they pick their 15 second highlight clips. Expectations were pretty low for him this season, at least by those outside the Cavaliers’ offices. He has to be gaining confidence with each passing game.
Coming off the bench, Tristan is able to provide an infusion of energy, especially on the defensive end. He is the best thing the Cavaliers have had on that bench since Andy Varejao was becoming a fan favorite with his energy and eagerness to get floor burns. I believe that coming off the bench is going to help Tristan develop the good habit of going hard every minute he is in the game.
With the season at 66 games long, we can easily break it down into thirds. Let’s leave Tristan coming off the bench for at least the first 22 games. The best case scenario is that Tristan forces Byron Scott’s hand by outstanding play. Until that happens, let’s just leave him where he is. His minutes could increase without being inserted into the starting line-up. Which may be the best thing for the rookie.