- HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors - http://www.hoopsworld.com -
NBA AM: Thompson Unfazed By Additions
Posted By Joel Brigham On July 23, 2013 @ 6:00 am In NBA | No Comments
HOOPSWORLD catches up with Quincy Acy of the Toronto Raptors at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.Watch More Video Here
Tristan Thompson Ready to Adjust to Frontcourt Additions
It was just two years ago that the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson in the top four picks of the 2011 NBA Draft, with the hope that those two players would flourish into All-Stars that could help Cleveland push themselves back towards postseason respectability. Everybody knew it would take time, but having those two players succeed has been a major part of the Cavs’ rebuilding plan. So far, Irving has pulled his weight (and then some), while the jury is still out on Thompson.
There were times last year when Thompson really started to show what he could do. Thanks to his tremendous work ethic and tireless desire to get better, Thompson showed major strides on both ends of the floor last season. His PER rose from 13.3 his rookie season to 16.1 last year, and he saw an increase of 3.5 points and 2.9 rebounds over the course of just one full season.
With a crowded Cleveland frontcourt that now includes not only Thompson, but first overall draft pick Anthony Bennett, free agent Andrew Bynum and a healthy Anderson Varejao, it’s hard to know if there will be enough minutes available to Thompson to see even more statistical improvement, but so far he doesn’t seem all that bothered by the depth at the four and five.
“You can never have too many bigs in this league, and when you can add an All-Star big (like Bynum) to your roster it’s definitely going to help us a lot. When he’s healthy, he averages 19 [points] and 11 [rebounds], so we just need to get him healthy and get him ready for training camp,” Thompson said while in Las Vegas over the weekend.
The addition of Bennett, who plays the same position as Thompson, doesn’t really seem to irk the incumbent starting power forward, either.
“We can definitely play off each other,” Thompson said. “[Bennett] is a stretch guy, can hit some threes. He’s almost a 3-4, and I’m more like a 4-5 so we can definitely play off each other. I’m excited to have him and start working with him.”
Truth be told, Thompson will very likely be the starting power forward again this year. He’s more familiar with NBA defenses, has a more refined offensive game at this point and is probably the better overall player at this point in both forwards’ careers.
New head coach Mike Brown will have plenty of toys to play with in his frontcourt, and Thompson is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with one of the most successful coaches in franchise history.
“Coach Brown has a great history and a winning history, so we’re glad to have him,” Thompson said. “I know that he’s a defensive coach, and that’s something that we want to continue getting better at. Having Coach Brown on board will definitely help us a lot, especially the young guys like myself.”
It’s hard to know how this frontcourt rotation will look by the end of the season because Varejao has played more than 50 games only twice in the last six seasons and Bynum has only topped 65 games in a season once in his entire career and didn’t play at all a year ago. So Thompson may end up seeing the bulk of his minutes at the five before this is all said and done, but he says he’s fine with that.
In fact, he’s fine with whatever role Brown assigns him. Thompson is the consummate team player and one of the hardest-working guys on the roster. He’s already proven in two years that he’ll do whatever it takes to make his team better. He may never be the player Irving is, but it looks like he’ll at least be very good. As far as rebuilding is concerned, the Cavaliers can live with that.
DeMar DeRozan Looking At A Breakout Season
At 18.5 points per game, Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan was Toronto’s leading scorer for the first half of the season, and he likely would’ve stayed that way had then-team-president Bryan Colangelo not traded for scoring small forward Rudy Gay.
Despite the addition of another wing scorer in the middle of the season, DeRozan had his best year as a pro last season and is looking forward to having a full summer with Gay to figure out how to work off each other as a top-notch scoring tandem rather than two separate entities vying for touches on the offensive end.
“We’ve been working out a lot together over the summer, and it’s something we talk about, getting ready for next year and having a full start, a clean slate with me and him being together,” DeRozan said about his relationship with Gay. “It’s going to be big.”
Those two players alone were responsible for about a third of the team’s points after the trade deadline last season, and DeRozan’s scoring ability was a huge reason the team extended him last summer for four years and $38 million. That move was made at a time when the team believed he’d be their primary scorer, but even though he’s the secondary guy now, he’s still happy to have long-term security in a city he loves.
“This is where I wanted to be,” DeRozan said. “I wanted to be in Toronto long-term. I’ll definitely stick it through. One thing that I’ve been trying to do this summer is just working, getting ready for next season, coming around the team, being with the coaches trying to see what we can get better at next season and continue still being me as a player.”
DeRozan is spending the week in Las Vegas, working out at the Team USA minicamp with several other talented young players looking to earn a spot on the next Olympic basketball team. DeRozan is unique among the players there in that he’s a 6’7 shooting guard, a size advantage that has afforded him considerable NBA success.
As his jumpshot and defense improve, DeRozan hopes to not only make an impact there, but in Toronto, as well. In fact, he believes the Raptors could make the playoffs this season, a proposition that seems reasonable when one considers not only the shifting landscape among Eastern Conference playoff perennials, but also the fact that Toronto was the first team out of the playoffs last season. With reasonable improvement from DeRozan and a few other young stars, the playoffs could really happen for Toronto this upcoming season.
“That’s our goal. We’re trying to get better every year,” DeRozan said. “We’ve got a lot of talent on this team and we just have to continue working at it. We’ll see where it takes us.”
We’ll also see where it takes him individually. In the first year that DeRozan’s big extension kicks in, he’ll have to prove he was worth the money. Both he and the Raptors organization seem pretty confident he’ll do precisely that in the year to come.
Article printed from HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors: http://www.hoopsworld.com
URL to article: http://www.hoopsworld.com/nba-am-thompson-unfazed-by-additions
Copyright © 2013 HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors
Part of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group.