How Good Can Tristan Thompson Be For Cleveland Cavaliers?

By Vytis Lasaitis
Tristan Thompson
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Tristan Thompson has made some great progress since his rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but it is hard to predict exactly where his skill ceiling is.

Quite a few eyebrows were raised when the Cavaliers selected Thompson with their fourth pick in the 2011 NBA draft. Most mock drafts had Cleveland taking Lithuanian center Jonas Valancunas as he was a major prospect over in Europe. The downside with Valanciunas was that he was still tied to a contract with his Lithuanian club, which made the Cavaliers reconsider and pick Thompson instead.

Even in retrospect, it is still too early to determine whether the Cavaliers made the right decision. That said, Thompson has proven to be a very solid player already. This season he is putting up 11.4 points and 9.3 rebounds, flirting with double-doubles on a nightly basis.

Since his rookie season, he has improved his overall shooting and efficiency. While his 62.9 free throw percentage is still mediocre, it is a step in the right direction compared to the meager 55.2 percent he was averaging last year. His field goal percentage has also seen an increase from 43.9 to 48.9 percent.

Thompson does not mind doing the dirty work for your team. A lot of his points come from crashing the offensive boards as he ranks sixth in the league in offensive rebounds per game (minimum 30 games). Among power forwards, he is second only to Zach Randolph in this category — not too shabby for a second-year man.

The next step for Thompson is to develop a jumper. He very rarely steps beyond 14 feet away from the basket and is shooting 35.3 percent from mid-range. If he could spread the floor just a little bit more, it would make the defenders respect him, in turn helping the Cavaliers.

His talent and physical gifts will allow him to average a double-double in the future but beyond that, it is up to Thompson himself to work on his game.

Vytis is a Miami Heat and NBA columnist for RantSports. You can follow him on Twitter here: @VytisLasaitis

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