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Tristan Thompson to replace Jae Crowder in the starting lineup

Tristan Thompson returns to the starting lineup.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Change has finally arrived to the Cleveland Cavaliers starting lineup. Tristan Thompson will replace Jae Crowder, while J.R. Smith and Isaiah Thomas remain with the starters for the time being.

Thompson has been a disappointment for most of the season, after dealing with injuries and a new role. With the defense reaching historically bad levels, this was a move that was destined to be tried at some point.

But while his play has been disappointing, there are some reasons to believe that this might help. Since Christmas, Thompson has been moving more like he used to and the team has been better with him on the court. Their offensive rating improves by 1.5 points with him on the floor and defensive rating improves by 2.3 points per hundred possessions.

In addition to that, playing alongside Thompson is one of the only times lineups have appeared somewhat functional when Isaiah Thomas is on the floor. The Cavs have a -22.6 net rating when Thomas plays without Thompson, and -8.7 when they share the floor.

Having one less offensive mouth to feed in the starting lineup may do the team some good. Plus the team is putting Thompson back into a situation where he has had success in the past will help them figure out whether or not it’s time to move on from him. With two weeks left before the trade deadline, it’s time for the Cavs to figure out if their only center can help them, or if they need to explore other options on the trade market.

The flip-side of this is the impact Jae Crowder will have on the bench unit. Unfortunately he likely won’t add much more floor spacing with how he has been shooting. But the up-tempo style the bench plays with, as well as their proclivity to move the ball in comparison to the starters could help him get out of his funk.

The move may not work, but it will put the existing pieces on this roster a better chance to be successful. Something that the team desperately needs with so little time left before the trade deadline.