Jarrett Allen has been getting back into the swing of things with the Cleveland Cavaliers. After he was not involved in preseason and missed Cleveland’s first five games, it’s been nice to see him back.
Allen had been working his way back and the team was ramping him up to play after he had been dealing with a bone bruise in his ankle, which forced him to be limited in training camp. He was again not in game action in preseason, and had his first game action on Nov. 3 in a loss at the Indiana Pacers.
Allen has done pretty well in his minutes to this point, and he’s found ways to give the Cavaliers some steadying play for stretches. Early on, he’s averaged 12.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game across his four outings, and as he gets back into form, he should get more comfortable.
That said, given the injury he was coming back from and with Cleveland wanting to gradually get him back into the swing of things, they’ll still be having his minutes capped, to some degree. J.B. Bickerstaff said the following, as it pertains to that involving Allen, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com; Allen’s had 25.8 minutes per contest thus far.
With that in mind with Allen, while it won’t lead to him being involved game in and game out, given what he’s shown, that could be added rationale for some Tristan Thompson minutes.
Thompson is not going to be an every night contributor in normal circumstances at this stage. With Evan Mobley still functioning at the 5 a chunk of games anyway, that’s additional reason for Thompson to not be playing a bunch, with Allen in the fold.
Those caveats aside, Thompson has probably played better than many could’ve anticipated in rotational minutes thus far. His numbers aren’t going to pop out, but he has still given Cleveland some nice minutes on the interior for spurts and on the glass, and has been a better option than Damian Jones, regarding depth minutes.
Thompson has had 2.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game so far this season, in what’s been 9.7 minutes per outing. In the past three games, he’s had four points in 26 minutes of playing time.
However, in a couple of spurts in coming games, with Allen still essentially on a minutes cap it seems, Cleveland can still benefit from Thompson having some rotational 5 run.
Thompson did give the Cavaliers some key minutes in wins over the New York Knicks on Nov. 1 and Nov. 5 over the Golden State Warriors.
Thompson’s not going to be getting a ton of opportunities in potential minutes at this juncture with Cleveland, but for a Cavs team that has some issues on the defensive glass in closing out possessions, Thompson still is meaningful there.
He’s still a meaningful defensive presence inside, and Cleveland can still benefit from his defensive communication, activity in helping his teammates sort through screens, and early on, he’s had a defensive rebounding rate of 15.0 percent. And in some spot minutes, Thompson’s offensive rebounding is still something that can pay off for the Cavaliers; he’s had 4.2 offensive rebounds per-36 minutes, which is just shy of his career average of 4.4.
In fairness, at this stage, Thompson isn’t going to be much of a threat for Cleveland offensively; nobody’s going to be disputing that.
But just to keep Evan Mobley more out of foul trouble, and to help the Cavs on the glass for spot minutes at times, Thompson can still make his presence felt for Cleveland a bit, if there’s playmaking and shooting options in minutes with TT.
To reiterate, this isn’t suggesting Thompson receives tons of high-leverage minutes in coming games, and Mobley will still often be in there in non-Allen minutes. However, Thompson is a high IQ player, and for his physicality, hustle plays and hard screening, establishing some rhythm Thompson could still pay off in games.