Tristan Thompson is now averaging 17 & 9 as a starter, and Donald Sloan can play

Tristan Thompson received a Cavs Zine Two last Tuesday, he most likely finished reading it this week, and then went for 27 points and 12 rebounds last night in New Jersey. There are no coincidences there, obviously. Nor is there any coincidence to the way that Tristan played just after being called out by Coach Byron Scott following the loss to the Hawks on Sunday either. Zaza Pachulia kinda threw Thompson around in that first start of his NBA career, and Byron Scott rubbed his face in that after the game by putting the kid on blast for allowing it to happen in a way that Mike Brown never would. The mentally tough Tristan Thompson owned those criticisms however, didn’t whine or go into a shell, and balled completely out all over the New Jersey Nets his next time out in response.

Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Team Shaq dunks the ball during in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge game during the NBA All-Star weekend in Orlando, Florida, February 24, 2012.

Tristan scored 17 in the first half, added another 10 after that, and led this Cavaliers team to the hard fought victory down the stretch by playing like a top-5 overall draft pick. As a guy who’s been in the Tristan Thompson camp since day one, I wasn’t surprised by the statistical explosion, and you shouldn’t really be either. His offensive game has needed work this season, no doubt, but he knows that, and has been putting in that work everyday to get better. That’s not a throw-a-way line there, he really has been, and we saw the progress he’s making out on the floor last night. It was only his second start, and it’s also only the first time this season that he’s known he would now be getting 30+ minutes every night as a starter for the next 15-20 games too. Two games into all that, Tristan Thompson’s posted totals of 34 points, 18 rebounds, 15 of 24 from the floor (63%), and 4 of 6 from the FT line (67%). He’s just getting started too, stay tuned.

Donald Sloan is the Cavaliers back-up PG of the future: 

Yes I said that after 21 minutes and 21 seconds of combined playing time in two games as a Cleveland Cavalier, I’ve seen enough from Donald Sloan already. He can and should be the back-up PG for the Cavaliers next season, and I believe Chris Grant and company quietly replaced Ramon Sessions with a younger, more inexpensive version of a back-up PG who may be just as productive moving forward while nobody was looking last week. I thought he’d play about 15 minutes last night heading into the game, he ended up playing 20 after Daniel Gibson got hurt, and he was huge for all twenty of those minutes.

We can talk about the stats, and they’re solid (11 points on 4 of 6 shooting, made the only three he took, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, no turnovers) but this guy passes the eye test for me with flying colors more than anything else. What impressed me the most was the way he passed the basketball, the way he handled it, the way he ran the break, and the fact that he is also a guy who can play alongside Kyrie Irving too like he did last night if needed.  Tremendous work by the Cavaliers scouting department, and great move by the front office. I firmly believe that the signing of Donald Sloan will go down as an underrated move that people around the League will look back on next season and applaud the Cavaliers for making. Donald Sloan can play people, that’s a fact.

Samardo Samuels didn’t miss a shot last night:

Is five for five efficient enough for you guys? Because that’s what my boy Samardo did for last night, and he’s now hit for double figures in three of the last five games he’s played. Great decision by Byron Scott to put that Ryan Hollins and Semih Erden thing to bed for the stretch run here, and good on Samuels for stepping up in the 18 minutes per game he’s been getting here over the last five. He’s averaging 8 points and 5 rebounds per games during those 18 minutes of relief work, and I think those numbers are just going to get better with that continued opportunity he gets to contribute.

Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson combined statline against Nets: 53 points, 17 rebounds, 8 assists:

You might’ve already known that if you looked at the box score like I did this morning, but I just wanted to type that out and then use bold font for emphasis. That dunk Deron Williams smashed down after he blew by Irving midway through the fourth quarter would’ve left a lot of guys around the League looking for a towel to throw over their head and hide under, but Irving fired right by with a three point play on the following trip. He scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, and every time Williams scored (28 points), he found a way to do the same in that final period. His team won too, because Kyrie Irving and his teammate Tristan Thompson were simply too good last night.

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.

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