#4: Tristan Thompson
With the fourth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft the Cleveland Cavaliers selected former University of Texas forward Tristan Thompson.
“It’s an honor,” Thompson said, ”I worked out with the Cavaliers two times. Me and the owners, the coaches, the players, it’s a great environment and it’s a franchise that wants to win, and I’m just so happy and fortunate to be selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers.”
The 6-8 forward is a highly active rebounder and a terrific shot-blocker who will continue to add youth and athleticism to a Cavaliers organization in full-on rebuilding mode after LeBron James defected to South Beach last July.
While Thompson is still developing as an offensive player, he does a terrific job of getting to the free throw line and showed improvements throughout his one and only season in Austin. Just 20 years old, the Canadian big man has a tremendous upside and provides Cleveland with a young running-mate to play alongside point guard Kyrie Irving, whom the Cavs took with the top pick overall.
“Like you said,” Thompson added, ”knowing that Kyrie and myself have friendship prior to the Draft; definitely having somebody there to support you and go through what you go through and almost like a brother to me, and will have my back and I’ll have his, and we’ll get through this together.”
A little bit undersized at the power forward position, Thompson makes up for his lack of ideal size with a freakish 7-1 wingspan and good timing, which allow him to play much bigger than his height. His ability to crash the offensive glass and block shots is outstanding for his size.
His tremendous foot-work could allow Thompson to defend both the small forward and power forward positions at the NBA level, depending on match-ups from night to night.
While he isn’t the most polished player in the draft, Thompson’s intensity, effort, defense and athleticism give the Cavs some traits that will immediately help the team win basketball games while he continues to work on his offensive game.