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Tristan Thompson.

Tristan Thompson discusses his new sixth-man role for the Cleveland Cavaliers

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Tristan Thompson started each of the 78 games he appeared in during the 2016-17 regular season, but that is set to change this coming year.

That's because Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue decided this preseason that the Cavs would be better off with their big man coming off the bench.

That will allow Kevin Love to move into the center spot and give the Cavs more spacing on the floor when their starting lineup is out there.

Asking a talented player to accept a bench role is always a dicey prospect, but fortunately for Lue and the Cavs, Thompson has embraced his new status with the team, telling ESPN.com that he plans to make the most of his sixth-man role:

"I'm going to go for Sixth Man of the Year, put myself in position to do that," Thompson said after the Cavaliers' first scrimmage of the preseason. "Just play hard, though. I'm not going to look too much into it, but if you're going to come off the bench, might as well have a little goal -- and I feel like with the second unit we have and the energy that I bring off the bench, I'll put myself in pretty good position. Especially when you win."

Considering that guys like Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder and J.R. Smith could all see time with the second unit once Isaiah Thomas is healthy, the Cavaliers' second unit would be the envy of some lesser teams' starting five.

Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

Thompson said he will do what's best for the team, and added that the last time he was in a bench role, the Cavs ended up beating the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals:

"It was fine," he said. "I definitely knew where T-Lue was coming from and it was definitely tough, I could see when I was talking to him, but I told him I'm one guy you don't have to worry about. I'm a team-first guy. I understand that at the end of the day it's about winning and if you win, we all look good -- whether you come off the bench or you start.

"And it's not about who starts the game, it's about who is in the game in the fourth and who is finishing it. So, I'm not worried. The last time I came off the bench, if history repeats itself, we had a parade in June. So, I'll take it."

Lue has a few preseason games to get his rotations figured out, but if he can press the right buttons with the second unit, the Cavs could once again find themselves playing for a title this summer.

Topics:
Eastern Conference
NBA
Tristan Thompson
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
NBA Playoffs
LeBron James

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