#1: He’s having a career year and he could continue that momentum
Thompson has been a steady performer throughout his career, and has usually been someone that Cleveland could rely on to be effective every night. He was banged up the previous two seasons, and his performance was more up and down, although he was very effective in the postseason when he was closer to full strength. Although Thompson did reportedly suffer a foot sprain that caused him to miss ten games this year, he’s back now, and has been his usual self.
In the 34 games he’s been active in 2018-19, “TT” has averaged career-highs in rebounds with 11.2, assists with 2.2, steals with 0.8, and has tied a career-best in scoring with 11.7 points per game (per Basketball Reference).
With Kevin Love only playing four games so far this year due to a reported toe injury, Thompson’s presence on the glass has been felt more than ever, and that’s saying something with how much of an impact he’s had as a rebounder his whole career.
Contending teams understand that ending defensive possessions in the postseason requires active contributors on the glass, and Thompson will do just that, along with constantly getting extra offensive possessions for his squad. In the postseason, the pace of games typically slows down, and extra opportunities to score are invaluable, particularly in elimination games.
He’s also a very alert team defender, is a decent defender when switched out onto primary ball-handlers, and provides a consistent rolling presence in the pick-and-roll on the offensive end of the floor.
Thompson’s screens for both ball-handlers and off the ball for sharpshooters are among the best in the league, too. That’s evidenced by him being second to only the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert in screen assists per game this season, per NBA.com. Good NBA teams know the importance of that.
The second reason contenders might want Thompson is his postseason experience.