Another lackadaisical effort by the defending Eastern conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Another brilliant triple-double by LeBron James wasted and another mediocre performance by Cavs big man, Tristan Thompson added up to another loss for the Wine & Gold.
The subject of intense trade rumors, that at one point had him going out to Los Angeles in exchange for Clippers big man, DeAndre Jordan, Thompson had another ho-hum performance in scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds in 28 minutes during the Cavs 123-114 loss to the visiting Denver Nuggets.
Over his last ten games, Thompson has averaged 7.8 points and 8.4 rebounds. For the season, the former Texas Longhorn has averaged 6.1 points and 6.5 rebounds, down from his career averages of 9.1 points and 8.5 rebounds.
What is really concerning if you’re the Cavs is that will Thompson snap out of what has been a horrific funk this season.
Some may call it the Kardashian Kurse due to being involved with Khloe Kardashian or the weight of his five-year $82 million contract that he signed back in 2015, but from pure observation, he has lacked the dominating drive and skill that helped propel the Cavs to their first NBA title back in 2016.
Some can call this hating or nit-picking, but he looks seemingly disinterested, unmotivated and lazy.
Stats don’t lie, and in watching Thompson—who is slowly working his way back from a calf injury, that caused him to miss 3-4 weeks—that is no excuse for a former first-round pick to be playing on the court, and becoming both an offensive and defensive liability in today’s modern era of up-and-down small ball.
Which is why it may be time to send him back to the bench in favor of Larry Nance Jr.
This is not a knee-jerky reactionary blog column, as there is Thompson was moved to the second unit due to his poor play in favor of Kevin Love, so the idea of Thompson being moved to the second unit again in favor of Nance Jr. is not that far-fetched and makes a lot of sense. This is mainly based on Thompson’s lack of effectiveness on the floor and being a possible weakness for opposing teams to exploit, but Nance Jr. adds a dimension of athleticism and explosiveness that Thompson is lacking at this point.
Since coming to the Cavs via trade, Nance Jr. has averaged a double-double in 10 points and 10 rebounds in his eight games with Cleveland. Unlike Thompson, Nance Jr. has scored in double figures in four of his last five games, including 14 vs. Denver and 13 against Philadelphia. In his last two games, he has averaged 13.0 points and 7.0 rebounds.
While the fore-mentioned Thompson posted a minus-18 rating vs. Denver, Nance posted a plus-9 in 20 minutes—eight fewer than TT.
There are a lot of variables and factors to consider in moving Nance Jr. to the starting lineup, such as still learning the playbook, and becoming more familiar with the team’s offensive and defensive rotations. You also have to take into account how well he will mesh with Love once he returns from his broken hand injury, and having to mesh with him on the fly.
While this is all just merely hypothetical speculation right now, if the current trend continues, don’t be surprised if this becomes a possible reality in The Land.