Coming into this season, it appeared as if Tristan Thompson was going to be predominantly a veteran, locker room presence for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Thompson was a late-offseason signing essentially via minimum deal, and his contract for this season was not set to be fully-guaranteed going into the campaign, and has a full-guarantee date of Jan. 10.
Although, with how the season has played out, Thompson has probably been more of an on-floor contributor than one would've foreseen for Cleveland, and with how he's played, he still has something to give there.
On the season, Thompson has had 3.0 points per contest, in what's amounted to 22 appearances. In the last seven contests, he's had 4.3 points in 13.7 minutes per game.
It's not as if Thompson at this stage of his career is going to be putting up double-doubles much for Cleveland, compared to earlier in his career. Even having said that, Thompson is still demonstrating how he can be impactful on the floor for this group, and with Evan Mobley out for an extended time, the Cavaliers will need Thompson to keep making a difference, of which he's done of late.
Thompson is still making the unglamorous look glamorous in 2023 for the Cavs.
With Mobley sidelined for an extended period due to arthroscopic knee surgery, Thompson would appear to be more in line for some rotational minutes to alleviate some of the pressure on Jarrett Allen. Thompson has seen action in 22 of Cleveland's games thus far, and in times ahead, that should hold true, at least to spell Allen some.
Thompson is not necessarily the defender he once was, but he's still competent on that end of the floor, and his team defensive presence helps others around him in his minutes. His IQ and positioning as an interior defender has led to him giving solid minutes in relief of Allen as well, and against some bigger forwards, his strength has helped deter some drives, where his length has made a difference on contests.
As was previously alluded to, Thompson isn't going to be regularly putting up significant offensive numbers, and he's not going to be playing a starting allotment of minutes. That said, he's given the Cavaliers a boost when he's had the opportunities with his physicality on the glass, still as a screener, and his leadership on the floor is setting the right example on the inside with his fortitude.
Of course, sans Mobley, one would rather Allen not deal with foul trouble in games, given what he means to this group, and even more so without Mobley available. However, some foul trouble is inherently going to pop up at times for Allen, and at least for a few stretches in games, it is meaningful that Thompson has still been able to give the Cavs some energy when needed.
Thompson can still be an effective roller, and on the glass, he's still a difference-maker in rotational minutes. He's averaged five rebounds over the last seven games, and he had five boards in each of Cleveland's last two games in wins over the Atlanta Hawks and then Houston Rockets. Even in the Cavs' last road trip where they were somewhat disappointing, Thompson was a bright spot as well with his hustle and multiple-effort plays to keep balls alive when opportunity knocked.
However, to reiterate, Thompson is going to have limitations on offense, and one shouldn't anticipate him having a significant role, even with Mobley out. Allen has to play big, and TT is still largely a locker room presence at this point. And the Rockets playing Hack-A-Tristan on Monday, and him going two-of-eight from the free throw line in that one was less than ideal.
All things considered, though, even with his limitations at this stage of his career, Thompson still find ways to affect games in bench minutes, and the short-handed Cavs need that from the veteran. It's not going to get style points from some, but it's still clear that Thompson can make the unglamorous look glamorous in 2023.