Tristan Thompson has appeared in 141 consecutive games for the Cavaliers, but Tuesday he gave his iron man approach a new look.
Thompson met with reporters wearing a Zephyr compression tank top with an attached monitor that measures his vital signs and workload during practice.
“I feel like Iron Man,” Thompson joked.
He played the role of a superhero early in the season, when he had seven double-doubles in the Cavs’ first 11 games and was proving to be one of the few bright spots in a bleary start to the season. But then he faded, scoring one basket or less in four of five games and averaging 5 points and 7.8 rebounds in a five-game stretch when he shot just 26 percent. He broke out of the funk with 14 points and 14 rebounds in Saturday’s win over the Chicago Bulls and will try to stay hot tonight when the Cavs host the Denver Nuggets.
Coach Mike Brown considered his five-game funk nothing more than a course adjustment because he thought Thompson was playing over his head early in the season.
“I think he started the season off unusually high,” Brown said. “He was hitting shots at the beginning of the year that I know watching tape, I didn’t see him hit last year and watching tape of this summer (with Team Canada at the FIBA Americas Tournament) I didn’t see him hit.”
Thompson fell just shy of averaging a double-double last season and set that as the goal again this season. He enters Wednesday’s game against the Nuggets averaging 10.8 points and 9.5 rebounds following his hot start and rough stretch.
All of the preseason questions about whether or not Thompson and Anderson Varejao could coexist have vanished now that Andrew Bynum has replaced Varejao in the starting lineup. Now Thompson has another adjustment to make in learning how to play next to one of the few remaining true centers in the NBA.
“He’s going to get double-teamed a lot so for myself and the rest of the guards, spacing is key so he has enough room to operate,” Thompson said. “At the same time when they do double-team, we have to get to the open spots. So, for me, around the charge circle or play underneath the defense because he’s looking to pass, so you’ve just got to get open.”
Thompson also has to convert when he gets there. He is converting just 44 percent of his shots around the rim, which is below the league average.
Due to the hot start and slump, Brown is still trying to figure out exactly what to expect from Thompson.
“I’m not sure if [the start of the season] is where he is right now at that percentage or playing at that level,” Brown said. “I think in time he can get there, I thought his numbers were a little high for early in the season. So I’m not sure where his norm is.”
As for the electronic monitoring equipment, Brown said it’s simply another piece in advanced player assessment. But don’t expect the coaches to start wearing the monitors anytime soon.
“They might look at me and see that I have the least amount of endurance,” Brown joked. “Gurg and Bernie [assistant coaches Tim Grgurich and Bernie Bickerstaff] get around pretty good. I don’t want them to deflate any of my younger coaches’ egos. I’ll stay away from that with the coaches.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.