Position-by-Position: Front and Center

The Iron Giant

It’s hard to believe that Tristan Thompson, who arrived as a wide-eyed lefty power forward, is going into his seventh season with the Cavaliers – as a grizzled, right-handed veteran center.

A constant in the Cavaliers’ ever-changing universe, Tristan Thompson finally succumbed to the injury bug – 447 games after starting a streak that made him the franchise’s all-time iron man.

And even in that game – a 23-thumping of the Celtics in Boston on April 5 – Thompson earned a participation trophy …

”Oh, I was hyped! I was like their No. 1 cheerleader. I was going crazy at home! Talking sh*t – cursing! I was riled up like I was at the arena.”

That, in a nutshell, is Tristan Thompson. And for the first six years, he’s been a selfless, steady presence in the middle for Cleveland. This year, Thompson came into the campaign without a contract situation hanging over his head. The only speedbumps he hit during the season were the sprained thumb that sidelined his streak, a brief verbal beef with LeBron during a heated OT contest against Indiana and a rough start to the 2017 Finals.

In the regular season, Thompson averaged 8.1 points and 9.2 boards (15th in the league), doubling-up on 19 occasions, grabbing double-digit boards in 38 games and leading the team in 40. On the offensive glass, his 3.7 rpg were good for 5th in the league and he blocked a career-best 84 shots this past year.

When the Playoffs rolled around, Thompson – still nursing the sprained thumb that shelved him late in the season – was up to the task, grabbing double-digit boards in six of Cleveland’s first seven postseason contests.

Thompson was dominant through the first part of the Eastern Conference Finals – posting a 20-point, nine-board performance in the series opener and doubling-up with 18 points and 13 boards in Cleveland’s first loss of the Playoffs two nights later. But Tristan struggled mightily through the start of the Finals before coming alive for Games 4 and 5.

Thompson is the Cavaliers’ ultimate plug-and-play guy. He’ll be ready to roll when Camp tips off and will go full-throttle for the next nine months. And this year, he goes into the season as one of the squad’s true leaders.

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