Tristan Thompson was selected fourth in the NBA draft with the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers' second pick of the night. While I think Cleveland's first pick says they thought Kyrie Irving was the best player in the draft (Cleveland already has not one, but two legitimate point guards making a combined 14+ million dollars in Ramon Sessions and Baron Davis), I thought Tristan Thompson was picked as a better combination of "fit" and talent.
This year, I think Cleveland plays Anderson Varejao at center. He might be a little more comfortable at power forward with his lean frame, but he is 6'11. 7 footer Ryan Hollins will probably lose many of his minutes between his lack of productivity last season and Varejao coming back from injury. Then the Cavs will have to choose from Tristan Thompson, Antawn Jamison and JJ Hickson for their power forwards. If you ask me, that's a pretty solid situation for Thompson to be going into. This is the last year of Jamison's inflated contract, which will almost certainly not be renewed.
Thompson (unlike many high draft picks) should have this season to focus totally on getting better, specifically: developing a good back to the basket move and making over 60% of his free throws. I also wouldn't be surprised if Thompson didn't focus quite as much on shot-blocking (at least fellow bigs), and he dramatically increased his rebounding rates. I think Thompson will still be very effective at keeping guards out of the lane, but I'm not sure how his shot-blocking will do against the taller bigs in the NBA.
More after the jump.
Cleveland still won't be good next season: I expect they'll be much better. They're still recovering from LeBron's departure, which left them with several costly contracts and a huge dearth of talent. But, I really like Sessions, Irving, Thompson and Varejao** as a core to start building back up to a playoff team in the East. I think the key for the Cavs moving forward will be scoring, especially inside, which is why I still expect to see Antawn Jamison get lots of minutes this season as a four who can shoot.
**I don't actually like Varejao. He's one of my least favorite players in the league, but it's because he's scrappy and effective.
Thompson may have a long way to go, but his raw talent is undeniable. He should be immediately effective as a rebounder and defensive stopper, and I would be surprised if he didn't develop into an average offensive player (not to mention points he'll get from crashing the offensive boards).