Now most die hard Cavaliers fans such as myself will remember for years the night of the 23rd of June, 2011. It was the night that changed a franchise, it changed the mood of the fans, it changed a whole lot of things in Cleveland, Ohio.
This was the date of the 2011 NBA Draft, and if you were anything like me you were somewhat confused at how to feel regarding our Cavs taking Kyrie Irving, a point guard out of Duke who had almost played as many college games as years he had been alive.There had been quite a bit of speculation on what Cleveland was going to do with picks #1 and #4 in the draft, some mocks had us taking Derrick Williams (Arizona) #1 and Brandon Knight (Kentucky) #4. Others had us taking our main man Kyrie Irving at number 1 and taking a punt on Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas at number 4. However GM Chris Grant and the rest of the Cavaliers front office threw a spanner in the works and turned the 2011 Draft on its head by selecting Tristan Thompson, a 6"9 power forward formerly of the Texas Longhorns.
Now when NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Kyrie Irving's name at #1 I somewhat expected it, however when he said "With the 4th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select, Tristan Thompson from the University of Texas", I couldn't help but yell to myself "What?". We had selected a somewhat undersized big man with a big wing span who was a strong offensive rebounder and a good defender, but had little to no offensive game.
I was stunned and didn't know what to think of what had just happened so I did what all good fans do these days and I took to social media. The uproar of fans on facebook and twitter was ridiculous, Tristan Thompson's ability was being questioned before a ball had even been tipped, similarly to how Dion Waiters was treated by fans following his selection this year.
However after a somewhat slow start coming off of the bench Tristan began to show glimpses of his huge potential with some solid games against Charlotte and Sacramento (from memory). The turning point in his season was the wrist injury that kept fan favourite Anderson Varejao out for pretty much the entire season. Byron Scott threw Thompson into the deep end and began to start the offensively raw big fella to play a role as an undersized center.
Amazingly for me, Tristan thrived and began to put together a run of good game after good game which led up to his absolute peak as an NBA player thus far in his career in a game against New Jersey when he put up 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a career night. Eventually he was selected in the 2012 All Rookie Second Team and posted averages of 8.2ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.0bpg from 60 games which included 25 starts.
Basically my reason for writing this article was to get some views on where people see Tristan in the future? Is he an All-Star talent? With Jamison moving on the starting PF role seems to be Thompson's to lose and he should definitely see a bump in minutes (he averaged 23.7mpg last season) and subsequently his statistical output.
I'd love to see Tristan become an All-Star in the future alongside Kyrie and I truly believe his future is very bright, his rookie season was full of ups and downs and many learning curves especially on the offensive end. However, that is what a rookie season is for right? For rookies to showcase their skills, make mistakes and eventually corrections to improve their game and sustain it at the professional level.
Kyrie has received praised for his amazing rookie season and rightly so, he should have been a unanimous ROY winner, however when it is all said and done that doesn't matter. We know he is set for stardom, maybe even super stardom if he continues his rapid development, but will the man he posed for all those photos with after he was drafted be headed for similar individual glory?
All the way from Australia