NBA

Tristan Thompson.

How Tristan Thompson showed the Cavaliers early on that he'd be special

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The NBA Draft is a crap shoot in many ways, and the mistakes can be very costly to a franchise.

So there are imprecise ways of looking for talent, and teams have different criteria when deciding who to go with on draft night.

Tristan Thompson, during a workout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, showed Cavs brass exactly what they were looking for in an environment that they set up to see if he'd thrive.

It wasn't long into his tenure with the franchise that he said and did the right things to prove to them they had made the right decision by taking a chance on him.

Two great anecdotes from this Zach Lowe piece on ESPN.com about Thompson show what the 6-foot-9 Canadian is all about on the court.

When the 2011 NBA Draft preparations were taking place around the league, Thompson was at a big disadvantage. During his one year at Texas, he was a grinder. An elite one, but still a grinder. His college assistant coach, Rodney Terry, told Lowe the Longhorns didn't run one play for him in that season.

Arizona v Texas

So, with scouts and team executives studying talented players, the Cavaliers had a hunch that Thompson would struggle when it comes to the one-on-one workouts that have become a crucial way teams evaluate prospects.

That's why the Cavaliers invited Thompson to come workout for them in a unique process: A three-on-three format where Thompson's defensive skills would be on display, along with his tenacity as an underdog. The Cavaliers had the first pick (which would eventually be Kyrie Irving) and the fourth pick, so every prospect was willing to come work out for them.

Thompson went up against Enes Kanter and Derrick Williams in the drills - two players projected to go ahead of him in the draft.

The Canadian big man destroyed them, and would reportedly not let them score.

"They had no chance," Thompson told ESPN.com last week in Boston. "I love proving people wrong."

2011 NBA Draft

The other anecdote from Thompson's early pro days show that he actually loved proving someone right.

After the Cavs surprised many and chose Thompson with the fourth pick, he was a rookie under coach Byron Scott that fall.

The coach handed out notecards to each of his players, detailing what he thought their role would be. The instructions were to read the card, absorb it, and come back with questions.

Thompson was the only player to return it without feedback, noting "That's all good, Coach," about his directives to set screens, rebound, talk on defense and have a "high motor."

Keep that in mind as he helps lead in those areas for Cleveland once again in the NBA Finals.

Topics:
Kyrie Irving
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
NBA
Kevin Love
Tristan Thompson
LeBron James
NBA Playoffs

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