Tristan Thompson to Boston: 2 years, $19M, player option to re-up with Khloé Kardashian

wade boggs chicken dinner

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It was a funny draft lottery that year, the Cavs had a 19.9% chance to win the lottery with their own pick and a 2.8% with the Clippers pick they acquired for taking on Baron Davis in a salary dump. It wound up being the Clippers pick that won the first overall and Kyrie, so their own pick fell to fourth and they got Thompson in that spot. In the much more likely scenario where their own pick had won, the Clippers pick would most likely have fallen to eighth, where Brandon Knight got taken in the real draft by the Pistons, but where Kemba, Kawhi, both Morris twins, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler, Isaiah Thomas (not that he would have gone that high), and another Thompson (Klay) were still available. Interesting “what if” draft.
Sorry for the digression, but wasn't the 2011 draft thought to be weak? (This article says yes but I can't remember back that far.)

The most amazing thing is that CLE has the #1 pick in what most consider top 10 drafts of all time - 2003 & 2011 - and only got 1 championship out of it.
 

DJnVa

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Can you expand on that? On the surface it seems like Thompson is an offensive downgrade but a defensive upgrade (to be fair anyone would be over Kanter) and rebounds about the same. Which, yeah, isn’t earth-shattering, but to suggest this is the worst signing Danny’s ever made seems ridiculously hyperbolic. I mean, just last year Danny signed Poirier who produced exactly zero value.
I don't think he said "worst signing" he said his least-liked, and there's a difference.
 

BillMuellerFanClub

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I think he's going to be much more useful than Kanter. He's not an immobile defensive sieve.
This. Get this man in the Theis School of Sealing the Lane (tm) and he's already a better player for this team in a vacuum than Kanter was. On defense this guys is a shot blocker, can switch and close out, handle the PNR, runs the floor well, and has a nose for rebounds.

Where I can understand the criticism is if you saw the MLE as the only avenue to acquire a big that can capably defend Bam/Giannis/Embiid then it's easy to argue that Ainge swung and missed badly here.
 

mauf

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I'm a bit surprised that people wanted Ibaka, and I think Ibaka is a decent player. But does he hold up against the bulkier interior guys in the East? My recollection was that that job usually fell to Gasol, because Ibaka isn't as strong as you'd think.
I think two bigs who can’t stretch the floor is one too many, and Time Lord is ready for a real role, so I would’ve preferred Ibaka to TT. LA is a more attractive destination than Boston, however so Ibaka was never an option, just as Harrell wasn’t. I’m assuming Danny thinks TT will be more durable than Baynes; given their age, that’s probably a good bet.

I’m not inspired by the signing, but I can’t think of anyone else who was available who would’ve been a better option than TT.
 

bowiac

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Can you expand on that? On the surface it seems like Thompson is an offensive downgrade but a defensive upgrade (to be fair anyone would be over Kanter) and rebounds about the same. Which, yeah, isn’t earth-shattering, but to suggest this is the worst signing Danny’s ever made seems ridiculously hyperbolic. I mean, just last year Danny signed Poirier who produced exactly zero value.
Sure. I think Thompson is likewise too immobile to be a credible defender mostly. He's a good rebounder, and this gives the illusion of being useful defensively, but he's just too slow and plodding to be useful against most bigs. Stop me if this seems familiar - as I do think we've seen this archetype before the Celtics. He's not Kanter-level immobile, which is nice, but he's also not built for the modern NBA either. And apart from rebounding, he doesn't do much of use on the defensive end. Which is why his teams have mostly been better defensively with him on the bench.

And then on the offensive end, he's obviously not contributing much. The best thing I can say there is it looks like he's improved his passing pretty substantially, which should help ameliorate the spacing issues he causes.

This is obviously informed by various analytics, and you don't need me to recite them, but he grades somewhere close to replacement-level in most metrics, including my own. But the crux is really that I don't think he's a good or even average defender. If he was at least a one-way guy, that would have value, but I think he's more in the Enes Kanter/David Lee mold of being sneaky useless on both sides of the floor.
 

Jimbodandy

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I’m not inspired by the signing, but I can’t think of anyone else who was available who would’ve been a better option than TT.
I think that this is where most people are.

If we found out that we missed out on Bogdan or Gallo because of TT, I'd be complaining too. When the argument is that we really should have tried harder to land Kent Bazemore, I'm not fussed. Maybe a guy like that does help more, but the TPE gives us options downstream anyway (assuming it happens). And more toughness is probably needed. If we know anything about TT, it's that has an edge.
 

amarshal2

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Sure. I think Thompson is likewise too immobile to be a credible defender mostly. He's a good rebounder, and this gives the illusion of being useful defensively, but he's just too slow and plodding to be useful against most bigs. Stop me if this seems familiar - as I do think we've seen this archetype before the Celtics. He's not Kanter-level immobile, which is nice, but he's also not built for the modern NBA either. And apart from rebounding, he doesn't do much of use on the defensive end. Which is why his teams have mostly been better defensively with him on the bench.
I think what it comes down to is whether or not this is correct. I don't think it is.
 

bowiac

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Agree. If your view of Thompson's mobility is more positive, then he can be more useful than I think he is. I don't have a positive sense of him there, but I'm obviously no scout (which is why I'm so informed by analytics - which hate him).
 

HomeRunBaker

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I'll say this, the advanced on/off numbers really hate Thompson's performance last year.

I'm guessing the Celtics have some scouting that indicates that they can mitigate his offensive liabilities.
Metrics on awful teams can be deceptive and carry little valid imo. I’d weigh history in similar winning environment much stronger provided there isn’t any apparent drop off in physical abilities. He’s no great shakes.....but we’re talking about big depth here not a guy to rely upon for 20+ mpg.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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I think what it comes down to is whether or not this is correct. I don't think it is.
Again, the match-up data is flawed for a variety of reasons but it does support the view that, aside from other similar sized players, Thompson has trouble with wing players. It doesn't make him terrible but it just shows that he can be targeted and when teams run out a small line-up with a true stretch big, he probably shouldn't be on the floor.
 

lovegtm

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Again, the match-up data is flawed for a variety of reasons but it does support the view that, aside from other similar sized players, Thompson has trouble with wing players. It doesn't make him terrible but it just shows that he can be targeted and when teams run out a small line-up with a true stretch big, he probably shouldn't be on the floor.
Yes—we’ll see Theis or Grant in those situations, maybe TL.

As a side note, I don’t think the Celtics will be super switchy given their current personnel. The idea that you switch everything was more an adaptation to GSW’s historic shooting, and now that there isn’t a team like that, there are a lot more defensive options teams can take.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Metrics on awful teams can be deceptive and carry little valid imo. I’d weigh history in similar winning environment much stronger provided there isn’t any apparent drop off in physical abilities. He’s no great shakes.....but we’re talking about big depth here not a guy to rely upon for 20+ mpg.
Yes, I think this is an example of where you need scouting and analytics to understand what's going on. Cleveland has been a mess and while that doesn't mean Thompson is good, it also means it's dangerous to say he's bad based primarily on that too.

I am in the 'I can see the role where he's useful, and I hoped for more with MLE' camp. But post-Milsap signing I'm not sure I see the guy. Even if the plan is to split it between, say, Bazemore and a big I think the other bigs avialable are likely pretty weak.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Yes, I think this is an example of where you need scouting and analytics to understand what's going on. Cleveland has been a mess and while that doesn't mean Thompson is good, it also means it's dangerous to say he's bad based primarily on that too.

I am in the 'I can see the role where he's useful, and I hoped for more with MLE' camp. But post-Milsap signing I'm not sure I see the guy. Even if the plan is to split it between, say, Bazemore and a big I think the other bigs avialable are likely pretty weak.
Remember when posters were calling George Hill “cooked” when he was serving time in Sacramento a couple years ago? Metrics are a tool used to evaluate a player but should never be the be-all end-all as there are other factors to consider.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Remember when posters were calling George Hill “cooked” when he was serving time in Sacramento a couple years ago? Metrics are a tool used to evaluate a player but should never be the be-all end-all as there are other factors to consider.
Yup. Or the reverse, where we heard that Tiago Splitter was a secret star...until he left the specific role he had in SA and was just mediocre (and then hurt).

Analytics are valuable and we should carefully think through when we believe they do not tell the full story; we shouldn't simply say "I feel differently, toss the numbers out". But on this board the more common challenge is failing to be open to what they may not accurately capture in a particular situation, imo.

Let's hope TT is one of those---because if he's down near replacement level that is a really bad outcome for Celtics
 

DannyDarwinism

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Yes—we’ll see Theis or Grant in those situations, maybe TL.

As a side note, I don’t think the Celtics will be super switchy given their current personnel. The idea that you switch everything was more an adaptation to GSW’s historic shooting, and now that there isn’t a team like that, there are a lot more defensive options teams can take.
And ironically, TT was the starting big on the team who did take down Golden State’s historic shooting team. Obviously Lebron is Lebron, but he deserves some credit for stifling the Dubs, especially when Kyrie and Kevin Love were on the floor with him for the most part. My impression of him is undoubtedly informed by what I saw as pretty damn good help defense against the Death Lineup and a couple of games where he killed the Celtics on the glass, so I very well could be missing something important, but per HRB’s George Hill rule, the dude has been losing games while Collin Sexton jacks ill-advised shots fir a couple of years there, and was basically the only positive influence when everyone was throwing Beilin under every bus in Cleveland. I’m excited to watch him play with this team.
 

reggiecleveland

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Quick look for videos of TT. Pretty clear he can do things Kanter could and Theis could not. Like seeing he runs the floor.

Three years old but LBJ saying TT beinbg ablew to switch is big
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13RqOFJSS0Q


Clip of him switching and moving his feet this year
https://www.nba.com/cavaliers/video/teams/cavaliers/2020/09/04/3405747/1599245532854-new-video-2020-09-04t145105791-3405747
Two videos of him scoring. He gives the lob option that TL brought them, and unlike Theis is physical enough to get a lst minute catch flat footed and still score. Also a can take big slow guys off the dribble a bit.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezcObWJXjrY


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PnF3SKEGwM
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Cavs blogger had a short analysis on TT's defense last spring here: https://kingjamesgospel.com/2020/04/29/cleveland-cavaliers-grading-tristan-thompsons-2019-20-thus-far/3/

Said he played bigs well -including Giannis and LBJ - and also switched out on ballhandlers. Also said this: "t’s also clear that when you watch games, TT is likely the Cavs’ best defensive communicator and his rotations are nearly always right on the mark."

Seems like TT should be a match-up option in the playoffs, which would be great.
 

lovegtm

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Cavs blogger had a short analysis on TT's defense last spring here: https://kingjamesgospel.com/2020/04/29/cleveland-cavaliers-grading-tristan-thompsons-2019-20-thus-far/3/

Said he played bigs well -including Giannis and LBJ - and also switched out on ballhandlers. Also said this: "t’s also clear that when you watch games, TT is likely the Cavs’ best defensive communicator and his rotations are nearly always right on the mark."

Seems like TT should be a match-up option in the playoffs, which would be great.
One interesting thing when I watched his film against Philly and Milwaukee was how often he was frustrated by teammates blowing defensive communication and assignments. He spent like half of each game visibly pissed at the incompetence/laziness. He wasn't without his own faults, but he seems a good candidate to improve in a good defensive system.

I did not expect Kanter to be much better than his previous defensive numbers with the Cs, but I expect Thompson to significantly improve his reputation.
 

benhogan

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Cavs blogger had a short analysis on TT's defense last spring here: https://kingjamesgospel.com/2020/04/29/cleveland-cavaliers-grading-tristan-thompsons-2019-20-thus-far/3/

Said he played bigs well -including Giannis and LBJ - and also switched out on ballhandlers. Also said this: "t’s also clear that when you watch games, TT is likely the Cavs’ best defensive communicator and his rotations are nearly always right on the mark."

Seems like TT should be a match-up option in the playoffs, which would be great.
from the same blogger post-exit to Boston:

Thompson should help Boston’s interior defense and aid their efforts against more physical bigs, to go with the rebounding department. Thompson will also provide toughness, a heck of an offensive rebounding threat, to go with screener both on and off-ball for players such as Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and others.

Thompson, who had a career-high with 12.0 points per game last season for the Cavaliers, is an improved finisher/post-up threat as well, which should help Boston.


https://kingjamesgospel.com/2020/11/21/cleveland-cavaliers-longtime-cavs-big-tristan-thompson-going-celtics-understandable/
I'm not sure what the analytics of Baynes re-joining Boston were? BUT with Baynes going for less $$$ to Toronto, and their affinity for each other, clearly, the Celtics brass feel TT can add more to this group than AB.
I'd expect TT's play to be heavily scrutinized this season
 

lovegtm

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from the same blogger post-exit to Boston:

Thompson should help Boston’s interior defense and aid their efforts against more physical bigs, to go with the rebounding department. Thompson will also provide toughness, a heck of an offensive rebounding threat, to go with screener both on and off-ball for players such as Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and others.

Thompson, who had a career-high with 12.0 points per game last season for the Cavaliers, is an improved finisher/post-up threat as well, which should help Boston.


https://kingjamesgospel.com/2020/11/21/cleveland-cavaliers-longtime-cavs-big-tristan-thompson-going-celtics-understandable/
I'm not sure what the analytics of Baynes re-joining Boston were? BUT with Baynes going for less $$$ to Toronto, and their affinity for each other, clearly, the Celtics brass feel TT can add more to this group than AB.
I'd expect TT's play to be heavily scrutinized this season
Not super-shocking that the Celtics preferred the 29 year-old who is better in every way other than having a mediocre, slow-release. 35% 3.

The success of defenses like Milwaukee conceding the 3 to hesitant 35% type big guys is rippling through the league. You can also run them off the line, or late-switch small guys onto non-post threat big guys.

If you have a stretch 5, he better be a true shooter, not a "35% when he thinks about it for awhile" guy. Otherwise you're better off running rescreening actions above the arc for your real threats, which we're seeing more and more as the counter to abandoning big dudes in space.
 

benhogan

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Not super-shocking that the Celtics preferred the 29 year-old who is better in every way other than having a mediocre, slow-release. 35% 3.

The success of defenses like Milwaukee conceding the 3 to hesitant 35% type big guys is rippling through the league. You can also run them off the line, or late-switch small guys onto non-post threat big guys.

If you have a stretch 5, he better be a true shooter, not a "35% when he thinks about it for awhile" guy. Otherwise you're better off running rescreening actions above the arc for your real threats, which we're seeing more and more as the counter to abandoning big dudes in space.
I'm not a fan of BIGs that shoot 35% while stealing shots from Jays/KW.

Hopefully, TT is a screening machine (ala AB/DT) that rolls to the rim (ala EK) on offense. More importantly, if he can provide stout defense against NBA bulk and while adequately hedging on the perimeter I expect we'll be happy.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Good article with video on TT's screening ability here: https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/how-tristan-thompsons-elite-screening-ability-will-help-the-celtics-and-his-new-teammates/
Consider that since the league started tracking screen assists four seasons ago, Thompson has been in the top 10 three times; the Celtics ran pick-and-roll on over one-third of their possessions last season. Of the top 13 most efficient pick-and-roll scorers last season (minimum 150 possessions), four are now in Boston -- Kemba Walker, Jeff Teague, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart. As far as niche skillset matches go, it doesn't get much better than Thompson and the Celtics.
 

lovegtm

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Good article with video on TT's screening ability here: https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/how-tristan-thompsons-elite-screening-ability-will-help-the-celtics-and-his-new-teammates/
Consider that since the league started tracking screen assists four seasons ago, Thompson has been in the top 10 three times; the Celtics ran pick-and-roll on over one-third of their possessions last season. Of the top 13 most efficient pick-and-roll scorers last season (minimum 150 possessions), four are now in Boston -- Kemba Walker, Jeff Teague, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart. As far as niche skillset matches go, it doesn't get much better than Thompson and the Celtics.
Interesting that he already knows the Theis seal and has enough quickness to execute it.
 

TripleOT

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Evaluation of NBA bigs has really changed. It used to be about how many rebounds and blocks, and now it’s about being switchable enough to guard littles on defense, and about being able to set good picks and either step out to shoot the three, or rim run for the lob pass.
 

BaseballJones

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Evaluation of NBA bigs has really changed. It used to be about how many rebounds and blocks, and now it’s about being switchable enough to guard littles on defense, and about being able to set good picks and either step out to shoot the three, or rim run for the lob pass.
A young Derrick Coleman would be a perfect NBA center in today's game. Good (not Kyrie-level, but good) handle, especially for a big. Could step out and shoot the jumper, was an excellent rim protector, phenomenal athlete, and hoo-boy could that guy play the lob game. He was a very good power forward (sadly, his career could have been much much better if he would only have put in the effort) but would be a perfect 5 in today's game. Again, if he was motivated.

-sigh-
 

Dahabenzapple2

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A young Derrick Coleman would be a perfect NBA center in today's game. Good (not Kyrie-level, but good) handle, especially for a big. Could step out and shoot the jumper, was an excellent rim protector, phenomenal athlete, and hoo-boy could that guy play the lob game. He was a very good power forward (sadly, his career could have been much much better if he would only have put in the effort) but would be a perfect 5 in today's game. Again, if he was motivated.

-sigh-
If DC was motivated he’d be in the Hall of Fame
 

Cesar Crespo

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A young Derrick Coleman would be a perfect NBA center in today's game. Good (not Kyrie-level, but good) handle, especially for a big. Could step out and shoot the jumper, was an excellent rim protector, phenomenal athlete, and hoo-boy could that guy play the lob game. He was a very good power forward (sadly, his career could have been much much better if he would only have put in the effort) but would be a perfect 5 in today's game. Again, if he was motivated.

-sigh-
I think he'd be run off the court in today's NBA due to his complete lack of effort. Obviously has the skill, tho.
 

BaseballJones

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I agree with both the previous posts. If he was motivated...he'd be ideal in today's game. Alas....
 

thehitcat

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A young Derrick Coleman would be a perfect NBA center in today's game. Good (not Kyrie-level, but good) handle, especially for a big. Could step out and shoot the jumper, was an excellent rim protector, phenomenal athlete, and hoo-boy could that guy play the lob game. He was a very good power forward (sadly, his career could have been much much better if he would only have put in the effort) but would be a perfect 5 in today's game. Again, if he was motivated.

-sigh-
Chris Webber also comes to mind. Had an OK handle. Could shoot and screen and boy could he pass. I also believe that he was a better defender than the numbers show as that Kings team wasn't really a defensive juggernaut. At 6'9" perhaps he'd be a little undersized but he could play inside and out.
 

Devizier

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If we're on the digression of guys who would have thrived in the current NBA, my choice remains Larry Johnson.

Coincidentally, the guy who he was traded for (Anthony Mason) would have been a fringe player in the modern game.
 

DannyDarwinism

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Pre-shredded knee Raef would have been an effective player.
David West and Kenyon Martin both recently shouted out Andre Bargnani as a guy who would’ve excelled in today’s game. They said they used to beat the shit out of him and he wanted no part of it, but with the way things are called today, nobody would be able to get physical with him. Of course, Bargs was terrible at defense, so I’m not quite sure how good he’d actually be overall, but it did make me think twice about writing off Pokusevski as a guy who’ll never hold up.
 

Mooch

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If we're on the digression of guys who would have thrived in the current NBA, my choice remains Larry Johnson.

Coincidentally, the guy who he was traded for (Anthony Mason) would have been a fringe player in the modern game.
Kiki VanDeWeghe would have been MVP level great in today's game. Not only would his skills play way up in a more open offensive era (his step-back jumper in particular), he probably wouldn't have had all of the back issues from the physical 80's era.
 

Ale Xander

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Very happy with his performance thus far. Really active on the offensive boards. Not a zero offensively. His offense is better than Kanter's defense, and his defense is better than Kanter's offense. Also pleasantly surprised with how fast he's picked up the system. I strongly prefer him over Theis at this point. (Also has so much more respect from the refs, which doesn't hurt)
 

lovegtm

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Very happy with his performance thus far. Really active on the offensive boards. Not a zero offensively. His offense is better than Kanter's defense, and his defense is better than Kanter's offense. Also pleasantly surprised with how fast he's picked up the system. I strongly prefer him over Theis at this point. (Also has so much more respect from the refs, which doesn't hurt)
Yeah, I think to the extent he's had rough moments, they've been largely on Stevens for putting him in weird situations (some by necessity). Things will be a lot more natural once they have one more depth wing to throw out there. I suppose tonight was a first look at how that might go: play JaVonte more, and play 8Mile more so that Smart can be a wing/2, which takes away some of the need to play Theis+TT at once.
 

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I was surprised to see he's actually shooting above 50% for the season. I feel like his % on the short jump hooks is much lower than I'd expect.
 

Cesar Crespo

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I was surprised to see he's actually shooting above 50% for the season. I feel like his % on the short jump hooks is much lower than I'd expect.
46.9% of his shots are from 0-3. He's hit them at a 80.0% clip. 46.9% of his shots are from 3-10. He has hit 26.7% of them.

For his career. 34.6% of his shots are from 3-10, 54.4% from 0-3.

Williams is at 12.8% and 79.5%. Theis 14.0% and 47.5%.

For the type of player TT is, he's actually very inefficient.
 

lovegtm

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About half of Tatum’s highlight reel yesterday was TT setting crunching screens to free him for 3s and advantage drives to the rim. He looks really good in that role, with a spaced floor.
 

BaseballJones

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I think so far, he's been pretty much exactly as advertised. Good screener, pretty good on D, and a really solid rebounder and tough inside.
 

NomarsFool

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Is he that great on defense? I’m not sure yet. He’s a good offensive rebounder for sure, but his inability to put them back in diminishes the value. That’s one thing that Kanter was amazing at - he would pick up points so easily by cleaning up misses.
 

slamminsammya

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Is he that great on defense? I’m not sure yet. He’s a good offensive rebounder for sure, but his inability to put them back in diminishes the value. That’s one thing that Kanter was amazing at - he would pick up points so easily by cleaning up misses.
No, he's not. I think he is average - below average on defense. Regarding his finishing ability, I think he needs a little more time to get into playing form. He has basically just played his own personal preseason.
 

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Quincy, MA
One of the things that I think is hard to value at times is mental toughness, the toughness that brings swagger. Lowry spoke of it the other night (after the loss to the Celtics), and he lumped swagger with a physicality or perhaps the word I am looking for is edge. I don't believe that Jaylen or Jason (or Walker or Hayward for that matter) currently possess that edge that the playoffs require. With the Js perhaps it is youth, perhaps it is just a function of who they are as people, who knows. I believe the team was missing that aspect when they got pushed out of the playoff bubble, lacking a bit of an ability to push back to some of the physicality they were encountering. They missed some of that Baynes sandpaper, that Morris edge. It rubs off on teammates, it is contagious at times. They have it in Marcus, but I think it helps to have it in a big. Someone who can and will set a hard screen after a teammate was fouled a bit too hard. Someone who can make the defender hesitate going over a screen.

I believe that the TT brings some of this to the table, and that part of what he brings is as valuable as the Xs and Os. Team building is sometimes more than just physical skills, and having the right complementary players is a complicated. Sometimes it's the player with the physical ability to hit the open 3, sometimes it finding the player like Teague who will defer to the young guns, sometimes it is less about a physical trait and more about the mentality they bring. Some young teams need a veteran to teach them a work ethic - how professionals carry themselves (I don't think any of the current C's need that). This Celtics team (those that remain after the bubble team) need that sandpaper, that pushback when the refs are allowing teams like the Raptors or the Heat to get a bit physical (and they do and they were).

I'm NOT predicting that TT is a good fit, or that he will be successful at his role, only pointing out that I believe that Ainge was looking for more than what we see in the box score, or metrics that talented people like Bowiac develop. "A team that is more than the sum of it's parts" kind of thing.
 

radsoxfan

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 9, 2009
14,183
Agree. If your view of Thompson's mobility is more positive, then he can be more useful than I think he is. I don't have a positive sense of him there, but I'm obviously no scout (which is why I'm so informed by analytics - which hate him).
Score one for the analytics. TT stinks on D. Maybe if he lost 10 lbs it would be more mobile and marginally better, but overall he is pretty disappointing.

He can rebound and set screens, that's about it. He's OK for 20 minutes a night but I'd prefer the big man rotation to be focused on Theis and Timelord when possible.