Tristan Thompson throws shade at teammates for looking like ‘a damn idiot’
Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson hasn’t minced words when talking about Cleveland’s play during their rocky 0-4 start and his latest quip is sure to raise some eyebrows. T
alking to reporters after the Cavaliers 102-86 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, Thompson told media members that he felt as if there were guys who play hard for Cleveland but don’t play smart.
Per The Athletic‘s Joe Vardon:
“You can play hard but play like a chicken with your head cut off and look like a damn idiot out there,” Thompson said.”We’ve got to follow our schemes.” To whom do you think he’s referring? The “vets,” to use his word? Not likely. “At the end of the day, the only guys who really know what’s expected, every night, are myself, of course, Kev and Swish (Smith). Everyone else has been one-year, two-year guys. They don’t know the culture of being a Cavalier and what it takes and what’s expected and what the fans expect when you put on that jersey.”
The players who instantly come to mind when Thompson refers to players that are giving all-out effort but making mental mistakes are Jordan Clarkson, who went 4-14 from the field against the Nets, and Collin Sexton. Clarkson had a terrific start to the season, averaging 17.7 points per game on 53.7 percent shooting from the field in the Cavaliers first three games (per Basketball Reference) but the wheels fell off against Brooklyn.
Unfortunately for Clarkson, his style of play isn’t always aesthetically pleasing considering the number of contested midrange jumpers he takes. In fact, according to NBA Advanced Stats, 42.6 percent of Clarkson’s two-point field goals come when there’s “tight” defense (a defender within 2-4 feet of the shot attempt).
Sexton, who went 6-10 from the field against the Nets, didn’t have a poor game on either end for the Cavaliers. However, against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said that Sexton’s competitive nature got the best of him and led him to ignore defensive schemes because he made the battle with rookie point guard Trae Young personal.
Cleveland has plenty of time to work out their issues because unlike seasons past, this isn’t a championship-or-bust year. Players will be given time to integrate and ingratiate themselves with the rest of the team as well as develop.
Nonetheless, for the morale of the team, they’ll need a win sooner rather than later. Transforming the players who are unrelenting into players who “play hard and play smart”, as Thompson says, will be key to their evolution from a playoff hopeful to a bona fide playoff contender.