In Cleveland, the Cavaliers are gearing up for the 2012-13 season and Brampton native Tristan Thompson is feeling good as the clock ticks down towards the team’s home opener on Oct. 30.
The fourth overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft had an impressive rookie schedule with the Cavs, averaging 8.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in 23.7 minutes per game.
This season, the Canadian will be fighting for minutes with Brazilian centre Anderson Varejao, a player whose injury allowed Thompson to break into the starting lineup last spring.
While the injury allowed him to get more playing time, Varejao is now back in action, and Thompson expects that it could lead to some shuffling between what position he’ll play under head coach Byron Scott.
“Unfortunately, Andy [Varejao] got hurt and I had to play centre with Antawn [Jamison],” said Thompson, at the Cavaliers Media Day. “So be prepared for the worst. You don’t know what happens in an 82-game season so be prepared to play centre or power forward.”
Thompson has been hard at work all summer attempting to improve all the aspects of his game.
“Ten to 15,” said Thompson when asked by play-by-play announcer Fred McLeod how much weight he had added in strength.
The 6-foot-9 player attributed the extra weight to his coaches and also discussed how he returned to his team’s city early just to put in some extra work over the summer.
“I’ve got to give credit to coach Stan and coach Steve for working me hard,” Thompson said. “I came back to Cleveland a couple of months early. Back and forth, I went to L.A. So I’ve been working out a lot this summer. I’m really just trying to come back a new player and improved.”
Aside from bulking up, Thompson has also been working hard on improving his shooting.
“I’ve worked on both,” he said when what hand he had been practising most with.
“A lot of free throw shooting. I feel comfortable and I feel confident and I think that’s the key. You’re going to miss or make shots but if you take enough, they’ll drop down.”
After finishing 13th in the Eastern Conference last year, the Cavaliers will be hoping that players like Thompson as well as first overall pick Kylie Irving can help the team make a playoff push.
Byron Scott is certainly looking for both to produce solid seasons and Thompson knows his performance is a big part of how well the Cavs do this year.
“I have the potential to do good things for the Cavs,” Thompson said. “So I think the thing now is just to come in and work hard and play hard and do what I do.”
Cleveland is hoping to make the playoffs for the first time since Lebron James led the franchise to first place in the Eastern Conference during the 2009-10 season.
For Thompson, he’ll be looking to feature in the NBA playoffs for the first time in his career.