INDEPENDENCE: With so many positions up for grabs during training camp, Cavs coach Byron Scott called Tristan Thompson the early favorite to begin the season as the starting power forward.
"As of right now, I'd have to give him the edge," Scott said.
The competition is only beginning and it includes a trimmed down Samardo Samuels and newcomer Jon Leuer, but Thompson has been labeled by Scott as the hardest worker over the summer.
He added between 10 to 15 pounds of muscle and spent hours trying to develop a mid-range jump shot. His incredible athletic ability and explosiveness around the basket remain his best attributes, but if Thompson can add a 15-foot jumper, it would make him a nightmare matchup for opposing teams.
Thompson started 25 games last season, primarily at center, and averaged 8.2 points and 6.5 rebounds. The return of a healthy Anderson Varejao and the departure of Antawn Jamison will allow Thompson to return to his more natural position.
The goal for this season is clear. During his exit meeting at the end of last season, Scott told Thompson he is expecting a double-double out of him this season.
"Playing with Kyrie (Irving), offensively that's not a question. I don't have to worry about that," Thompson said. "The defensive rebounds is what I have to work on."
Asked what motivated him to work so hard over the summer, Thompson said: "If Kobe is working on his game, I for sure need to be working on mine."
"He worked his butt off and you've got to give him credit for that," Scott said. "As a young guy, you hope it manifests intself on the basketball court, because then it gives him added confidence knowing that everything he worked on this summer was well worth it."
TRIPLE DOWN BLACKJACK