NBA: Are Cleveland Cavaliers Mishandling Kevin Love & Tristan Thompson in Front Court?
The Cleveland Cavaliers are looking to repeat as Eastern Conference champions. They had a huge offseason bringing back the best player in the game, LeBron James, and they re-signed a lot of other notable players such as J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert.
By far the most money was spent on their front court. The Cavaliers doled out nearly $200 million on Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson combined this offseason. Both Love and Thompson are quality players, but many fans and NBA experts are questioning if they dished out too much guaranteed money on their front court players.
It's been two games, but head coach David Blatt is using Thompson off the bench and starting Love. Thompson, despite the $82 million contract, ranks sixth in minutes played among Cavaliers players so far after two games. Essentially, Thompson is the highest paid bench player in the NBA. Not a bad gig.
tristan thompson gettin 82 million to come off the bench??????
— RIP MD (@Yung_Prodigee) October 28, 2015
Still, Thompson is an excellent rebounder. He grabs so many offensive boards to give his team second-chance shots and you have to love his effort. The issue here is he can only have so much of an impact from the bench and Thompson isn't a gifted scorer by any means. Thompson has grabbed just one fewer rebound than Love despite playing 23 less minutes so far.
As far as Love, he got a huge $113 million contract, and he's going to start as long as he's healthy. Love is a far better scorer than Thompson, and he can even hit perimeter shots when left open. Love leads the Cavaliers in three point attempts this year. If only Love and Thompson could combine as one to create the ultimate player for half the price -- but that's not happening anytime soon.
So Tristan Thompson got 82 million to basically sit on the bench behind Kevin Love smh — Angus Johnson (@angusbeast96) October 22, 2015
The issue here is the Cavaliers don't believe Thompson and Love can coexist as starters because they are each power forwards. In theory it may work great. You would have Thompson earning his money, playing a lot more and doing the dirty work down low. He's reminiscent of a Dennis Rodman type of player. If Thompson is upgraded to full-time starter, he could very well lead the league in rebounds this season. Having said that, Love could still do his thing, which is score points.
However, that theory falls apart because of Timofey Mozgov's role. He's the starting center, as he is the tallest player on the Cavaliers roster. The Cavaliers could try having Mozgov, Love and Thompson on the floor all at the same time as starters, but offensive issues could ensue.
Thompson can certainly be a valuable bench player, but it should be mentioned he did start all 82 games back to back seasons in 2012 and 2013. He's very capable of playing a high number of minutes per game and starting all season especially at just 24 years old. Coming off the bench does have its advantages, but the Cavaliers aren't exactly getting much value for what they spent if they continue to use him this way.
Love does a lot of good things, but then again, so does Thompson. It may be worth trying to run the two of them together in the front court with Mozgov coming off the bench. Thompson may very well be up to the challenge of running the center position with Love continuing his power forward role.
Follow Damon Salvadore on Twitter @DamonSalvadore1
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