There haven’t been many short seasons for Tristan Thompson. He has played a pivotal role in the Cleveland Cavaliers last four appearances in the NBA Finals and also played with Team Canada in the summer of 2016.
Thompson will once again join Canada this summer as they try to qualify for the FIBA World Cup. Qualifying would be a big accomplishment for Canada, as they try to bounce back from their embarrassing loss to Venezuela in the 2015 Olympic qualifiers.
Some of the other notable names joining Thompson are fellow national team veterans Corey Joseph and Kelly Olynyk, along with other NBA players like Jamal Murray, Dwight Powell, Andrew Nicholson, Dillon Brooks, Khem Birch, and Chris Boucher.
Notable absences for the Canadian National team include Andrew Wiggins, Nik Stauskas and Trey Lyles. While future prospects like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (projected 2018 lottery pick), and R.J. Barrett (headed to Duke) are not eligible to compete.
Wiggins’ absence is believed to be related to his playing time in 2015’s disappointing defeat to Venezuela. Wiggins was a disaster in that game and was benched during the fourth quarter and was benched for international veteran Aaron Doornekamp. Stauskas was also unhappy with his playing time, but was similarly unproductive.
From a Cavs standpoint, Thompson competing internationally once again isn’t ideal. Since February of 2017, Thompson has struggled to stay healthy and has lost the reliability that he was known for prior to that point. He has shown the ability to play like he used to in the playoffs, but getting him healthy should be the top priority.
But while concerns about his health aren’t without merit, this tournament shouldn’t be too taxing for him. It’ll be two weeks in late June, with all games taking place on Canadian soil. With the deepest team the country has ever assembled, it shouldn’t impact his overall well-being in a significant way.
Speaking to people both with and around the national team in the past, it’s hard to overstate the impact Thompson has had on the program. He was among the first NBA players to fully buy in to the program and his leadership during his time there has been invaluable. It would be hard to imagine this program moving forward without his presence.