NBA Finals Matchup: Tristan Thompson vs. Andrew Bogut
*Photo via Getty Images
Tristan Thompson, PF-C, Cleveland Cavaliers
Postseason Stats: 4.9 pts, 8.4 rebs, 0.7 assts, 42% FG, 0% 3-pt FG, 0.4 stls, 0.9 blks, 1.0 tos
Strengths: Tristan Thompson signed a five-year, $82 million-dollar deal back in October of 2015 to remain a Cleveland Cavalier for just a little while longer, and how could you blame him? He’s playing on a championship caliber team with a rising star in Kyrie Irving and arguably the best overall player in the NBA, LeBron James. Thompson is a complementary piece to a team that warrants championship expectations, but maybe not $82 million-dollar worth. And that isn’t to say that he can’t validate such a large payday. He earned that contract extension in last year’s playoffs when he seemed to be the only player able to play sidekick to Lebron’s batman, averaging a near double-double in 9.6 ppg and 10.8 rebs in his first ever career playoff season. Without Irving and Kevin Love, Thompson helped Lebron and whoever was left, to get to the NBA finals where they took a 2-1 series lead over the eventual champion Golden State Warriors. The given, when you talk about Thompson is that he’s a worker, a blue collar worker. He wears his hard hat when he patrols the paint and his game revolves around defense, cleaning the glass and converting those offensive boards whenever the opportunity presents itself. This is not a guy you draw up plays for on offense, but someone you know who will make plays on that end just by his relentless motor. He’s a guy who will break the other teams back, finishing plays at the rim that his opponents thought they should’ve rebounded, or thought they had a chance to. Every team needs a Thompson. He’s willing to do the dirty work and you can add toughness, energy and youth to his makeup.
Weaknesses: Not a shooter at all. You won’t see Tristan get the ball 15-feet from the rim, get in the triple-threat position and pull-up for two like a Melo would. When Tristan gets the ball 15-feet away his first instinct is to drive that ball to the basket, hard, with aggression. You’ll see some jump hooks here and there that will look more forced and difficult than graceful, but don’t expect Dirk down there. He’s only 25 and has a lot of potential to get better but right now he’s a hustler. Blue collar worker. His offense is limited but he makes up for it in energy and heart. As someone who is around the basket the majority of the time he’s on the floor due to his activity, Tristan has to improve his free-throw percentage. Over his career, Thompson has shot 63 percent from the line, shooting his best 69 percent during the 2013-14 season. This past season, Thompson shot 61 percent and 60 during the season and the playoffs respectively and for him to grow offensively, that has to change.
*Photo via Brunchnews
Andrew Bogut, C, Golden State Warriors
Postseason Stats: 5.0 pts, 6.5 rebs, 1.6 assts, 66% FG, 0% 3-pt FG, 0.7 stls, 1.5 blks, 0.8 tos
Strengths: Andrew Bogut has been around for a while so he’s definitely more seasoned than Thompson and of course more offensively polished. He’s like you’re do it all center. He can post you up. He can rebound, block and alter shots in the lane. Offensively, Bogut can score in a variety of ways like catching alley-oops or converting feeds inside to points. He works well off the pick-and-roll, finishing at the rim and can run the floor. Not that much of a shooter but when you play with the “Splash Brothers” you probably don’t need to be. On the Warriors, Bogut is a key part of that engine in part that he creates extra opportunities for the Warriors, serves as another weapon on the offensive end that the defense won’t expect and can protect the paint. With Irving and James on the other end, Bogut’s defense will definitely be vital to the Warriors forcing the Cavs to shoot more jump-shots which will challenge James and co.. Before Bogut arrived in Oakland, he enjoyed six straight seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks averaging double-digits in points, and a double-double in points and rebounds his last three seasons with the Bucks. Although Bogut starts, his role with the Warriors, which involves expectations of championships has decreased in terms of not being the focal point but still an integral part of the team.
Weaknesses: Golden State doesn’t run their offense through Bogut. They play from the outside in, relying on Curry and Thompson to be the playmakers on the perimeter and in doing so, you’ll see some plays featuring Bogut here and there. He’s not Demarcus Cousins or even Al Jefferson. When healthy he’s a good, solid center who will put his best foot forward every night and give you a chance to win as long as he’s not in foul trouble. At this point in his career, the only thing that can slow the big 31-year old Australia native is his health. In the past, he has had issues with his back, ankle and his knee. We all know Bogut can play, the only obstacle he possibly could face is himself.
Advantage: Bogut has the advantage because I think he will have an easier time guarding Thompson opposed to the other way around. Thompson probably won’t put the kind of pressure that a Chris Bosh would in a situation like this, and I think the lack of a potent offensive game will keep Bogut in the game rather than constantly having to worry about picking up fouls because of Thompson's lack of offense. Bogut has the height advantage, (7 feet to Thompson 6’9) which should allow him to have more of an impact on the defensive side of the ball, especially against Thompson. I think Bogut will have an easier time finding buckets than Thompson, who practically has to work for every shot he takes. Not having to matchup with Timofey Mozgov should also help Boguts chances of being more effective in the paint and Thompson having to compete against, Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli and Bogut doesn’t exactly sound like a walk in the park. Thompson will struggle at the center position during this series, while I think Bogut will have his moments “In the Sun” and possibly earn some gold.