The resurgence of Tristan Thompson has been a very welcome development for the Cleveland Cavaliers. This team was in dire need of a vocal leader in the locker room that could go back it up on the court with hard work and results. After dealing with injuries as the result of his Iron Man streak, Thompson seems to be back to his best self possible.
Conversely, the team is still waiting on Kevin Love. After playing the first four games of the season, Love had surgery on Nov. 2 and will not play again until 2019. He did manage to put up 19 points and 13.5 rebounds across those four games, all losses for the Cavaliers, before being sidelined.
This duo of big men with bodies that have failed them in recent years are hardly the veterans one would think would guide young point guard Collin Sexton through his development, but they just might be what Sexton needs going forward.
The one thing that has been made obvious thus far about Collin Sexton’s game is that the man is fast. Simply put, Sexton is someone that can thrive, and has thrived thus far, playing in transition. He is currently in the top-40 of the NBA in both field goal attempts and effective field goal percentage for shots within the first six seconds of the shot clock.
Sexton will benefit as the obvious recipient of the famed Love outlet passes, as Sexton can burn most any opposing wing down the floor on missed shots.
The Cavaliers are sure to gobble up a whole lot of those missed shots with Thompson and Love out on the floor together. These two have 4,059 minutes of regular season play together and have never had a rebounding percentage under 52 percent together and were at 56.1 percent through the first four games, per nba.com/stats.
This also serves to benefit Sexton and the Cavaliers. As he develops, there is sure to be a multitude of misses for Love and Thompson to chase on the offensive end. This has already been seen in Tristan’s monstrous offensive rebounding numbers thus far this year. Love will only give the Cavaliers more second chances.
On the offensive end, it is fairly plain to see that the return of Love will benefit everyone, especially Sexton and Thompson. No disrespect to Larry Nance Jr., but lining up Love behind the three-point line creates infinitely more space in the lane for Sexton to drive. Tristan Thompson and his recent development of a strong hook shot will see much more room to work with Love on the court.
The Cavs will be better at generating assists and offensive rebounds when Love is back — two critical elements of success for this Cleveland team that’s very good at offense. He is another strong interior passer who can find the speedy Sexton or the athletic Thompson on cuts, too.
The relationship between Love and Sexton as a starter will be mutually beneficial. Love can be an offensive workhorse, but, at 30 years old, having the new offensive hub Thompson and Sexton (and sometimes Jordan Clarkson I guess) to soak up usage will keep him fresher. On that same topic, Sexton will benefit from giving possessions to Love rather than forcing it in bad situations.
Sexton needs to learn to play off-ball as the point guard of a lineup. In those minutes that he is on the court during Clarkson time, he plays more like a shooting guard to Clarkson’s point guard when he takes over. Feeding the ball to Love and playing off of him will develop an important part of his game.
Having this healthy, effective Thompson will giveLove the benefit of keeping Love away from the opposing center. With so many centers on the roster, there is no reason to put Love in the five spot. This new Thompson has been trying to be an offensive hub, but Love is meant for that role, which frees up even more of Thompson’s energy for his other roles.
The effects of the Love-Thompson pairing will spread across the entire roster, but Sexton is currently the future of this franchise, it is promising that these two fan-favorite veteran staples should play well alongside Sexton. Having these three form a solid core will help coach Larry Drew solidify the rotation before the trade deadline likely rips the roster to shreds again.