If Tristan Thompson plays tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers, he will extend his current NBA-best streak of consecutive games to 439. Quite an impressive streak, but is it really for the best of the team and Thompson himself?
Thompson has been the Iron Man of the team ever since he was selected 4th overall in 2011. He hasn’t missed a game since May of 2012. His relentless effort, his masterful positioning, and his incredible rebounding prowess are indispensable to the Cavs. He is one of the most important players on the team, one the Cavaliers would struggle immensely without.
Thompson has been the Cavaliers’ sole big man ever since the injury to Chris Andersen early in the season. He plays the majority of the minutes at center, over 30 per game. He provides the defense and rebounding that is key to how the Cavaliers operate.
Thompson’s streak is the longest in Cavaliers’ history. However, the longest streak in NBA history belongs to former Laker A.C. Green, who played in 1,192 consecutive games. Thompson would have to play for nine more years with no breaks in order to catch Green.
However important his streak is to Thompson, is it really worth possibly sacrificing his health and energy for the playoffs? Coach Lue has already mentioned Thompson has played through mild tendonitis for some time now. The Cavs need Thompson to be at the top of his game against Golden State or others deep in the playoffs, and in order to do that, Thompson needs to be rested here late in the season.
Tristan Thompson is 4th player in the NBA with at least 4 blocks and 4 steals in a game this season (Giannis, Anthony Davis, Drummond)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 29, 2017
The Cavs’ coaching staff realized this, and planned to rest Thompson in March by starting him in games but only playing him for a couple minutes minutes total, giving his usual minutes to new signee Andrew Bogut.
Those plans have changed as Bogut broke his tibia 58 seconds into his Cavs career. However, with a younger, fresher Larry Sanders now on board, perhaps Thompson will get his rest after all. Sanders can play either the 4 or 5, and provide athletic rim protection and rebounding for the second unit. Sanders will be moving back and forth from the Cavs to the Canton Charge for now.
Coach Tyronn Lue also mentioned that Thompson has recently been playing with tendinitis in his knee, so getting him rest becomes even more important. Resting Thompson needs to be a priority for the Cavaliers, but they also need to consider his feelings about his playing streak.