Through two preseason games, Tristan Thompson is 11-of-18 shooting for the Cleveland Cavaliers. That’s 61.1 percent for those of you scoring at home. It’s just two preseason games, be careful reading too much into it, but maybe it portends a big jump from last season when he shot 48.8 percent from the field.
This isn’t the normal jump you see as a player enters his third season — Thompson decided to switch shooting hands this summer. From when he first started playing basketball at age 12 until last season he’s been a lefty. This season, he’s a righty.
We’ve been following the progress of this unprecedented, wild transition and the signs continue to be positive.
Thompson sat down with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated for a fantastic profile and talked about the genesis of the switch.
After a morning shootaround in Phoenix last November, while players iced ankles in the courtside seats at US Airways Center, reserve guard Jeremy Pargo challenged Thompson to a shooting contest with their off hands. Thompson won so easily that Pargo told him afterward, “You should do this all the time. You look better. You look more natural. You’ll always be a solid player, but you could be an All-Star.” Thompson flashed back to those tens of thousands of jumpers. “But I’m lefthanded,” he protested. “I got here lefthanded, and I’m going to make it work lefthanded.”
However the more he thought about it, the more he thought the change was a good idea.
“A lot of people stick with what they know because they’re insecure about putting something new out there and getting embarrassed,” Thompson says. “I don’t want to sit here in 12 years and think, What if I made that change? Could I have been one of the best power forwards in the league? Could our team have taken a leap?” He thought about James, who dropped into the low post two years ago and emerged with consecutive championships. The immortals step out of their comfort zone in order to expand it. “They aren’t afraid to put it on the line,” Thompson says.
Good signs in the preseason are nice but border on meaningless — what will he do against the better regular season defenders he will face?
Thompson is a power forward and the Cavaliers used their No. 1 draft pick last June on another power forward, Anthony Bennett. This season Cleveland can easily keep both but coming soon when Thompson can test restricted free agency the Cavaliers are going to have some long-term decisions to make.
If he keeps this up, Thompson is going to make it a tough call for the Cavaliers.