Every contending team needs high level role players that can fit in along with the stars and bring something that helps the team come away with a win. Tristan Thompson has emerged this season as one of the better role players in the league. He is a versatile defender that is also one of the league's elite offensive rebounders.
His ability to buy extra possessions for the team is one of many reasons that the Cavs are so formidable offensively. In an interview with Jessica Camerato from Basketball Insiders, Thompson talks about how studying Dennis Rodman has had a large impact on how he approaches the game:
"I liked his energy and his passion," Thompson said of Rodman. "He didn’t let any possessions off, made it tough, and that’s what changes a game."
On whether or not he and Rodman share any similarities off the court:
Never judge a book by its cover," Thompson said with a laugh. "I’m all over the place. If you watch film or how I approach rebounding, if I’ve got to hit a guy or knock him off balance, I’ll do whatever it takes to get that board. I’m greedy."
The whole interview is definitely worth reading. But it's no secret that Thompson is a unique player who's value is really starting to become recognized league-wide now that he's contributing on a playoff team. While he likely won't have a Hall of Fame career like Rodman, it's the perfect player for him to study. A tremendous rebounder that used tenacity and position to be a terror on the glass and a versatile defender that can switch onto wing players is a pretty accurate description of both forwards.
With Kevin Love out, more will be expected out of Thompson. It remains to be seen whether he will continue to thrive, or if he will be exposed when asked to do more than he is ready for. Either way it will prove to be a great learning experience for a player that is likely a large part of the team's future.
I think I speak for everybody when I say I hope we don't see any of this in the future: