One of the more peculiar developments of the NBA offseason has been the switch of Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson to become a right-handed shooter. Previously, the University of Texas product shot with his left hand. Not anymore, as we learned last month.
Sunday afternoon, Rogers Sportsnet’s Michael Grange lit up the NBA world with this tweet: “Update: Tristan Thompson is now 29/37 (78%) FTs right-handed over nine games. Was 58% career as a lefty.”
Those Thompson stats are from the ongoing competitions with Team Canada over the offseason. The fact that Thompson and second-year Magic forward Andrew Nicholson have been the main offensive options for the Canadians shows why they’ve struggled this summer. [Edit: Team Canada isn’t winless in the current FIBA Americas, as many commenters pointed out.]
As I’ve marked before, the 22-year-old Thompson shot just 48.7% from the free throw line in 36 collegiate games. He actually did worse to start his NBA career, shooting just 43.8% from the line in his first 25 games, followed by 62.2% in the final 35 games of his rookie season. He then shot 60.8% his sophomore season in all 82 contests.
If Thompson can improve his foul shooting and mid-range accuracy, he could take a major leap this coming season for the Cavs. Back in late July, I wrote about Thompson’s long-term potential after Mike Brown raved about his work ethic. Here’s what I ended with, to note how he’s a sleeper for some massive improvement in 2013-14:
“But don’t sleep on the University of Texas product. He nearly averaged a double-double last season. While his minutes could decrease from the 31.3 he averaged per game last year, he’s only likely going to become more and more efficient. And the high praise of his work ethic from his coach only seems to back up his long-term potential. He’s going to be fun to watch.”
[Related: Behold: Tristan Thompson 2.0]