Is it possible that Tristan Thompson’s best asset is being represented by LeBron James’ childhood friend Rich Paul? Consensus around the league (as iterated by Brian Windhorst in his latest appearance with Bill Simmons) is that Thompson, the Cavs’ starting power forward for the last three seasons, is in line for quite a pay day despite not showing flashes of being much more than a 10-point, 10-rebound player.
In his latest feature for Grantland.com, NBA writer Zach Lowe discusses Thompson as the archetype of players NBA front offices are moving away from—guys who don’t protect the rim defensively and cannot consistently hit mid-range jump shots or corner three-pointers.
The price of shooting at all positions has gone up. And one player type has become less and less desired, to the point it may already be a market inefficiency: the power forward who can’t shoot 3s and can’t protect the rim or provide real fill-in minutes at center.
There are good reasons behind the price drop. Protecting the rim is a necessity for any team with championship ambitions. If one big man can’t manage, the other has to carry the load, and real rim protectors tend to be large humans who hang near the rim on offense. That means any big man who can’t protect the rim defensively had better be able to get the hell out of the way on offense, working as a long-distance threat around the pick-and-rolls that dominate the NBA.
Lowe states that players like Thompson (and Denver’s Kenneth Faried) have a fit deemed “unclear.” Cavs general manager David Griffin has long discussed “fit” as a code-word way of describing an offense that incorporates ball movement and spacing of the floor. Thompson has thrived as a rim runner at times, and cold very well get plenty of open looks at the rim as double- and triple-teams find their way toward James and point guard Kyrie Irving, but this skill set (converting due to being open) is one that the Cavaliers will have to give thought to come contract time.
Add in that Thompson could very well be the back-up power forward behind Kevin Love, and things get that much more interesting.
(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)