CLEVELAND -- It has long been said that rebounding is 10 percent skill and 90 percent will, and no one knows that better than Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson.
Thompson considers rebounding part art and part science, but at the core of his effort is all heart, which has allowed him to become one of the most effective rebounders in the Eastern Conference.
“Just playing the percentage, using my motor, just being active, just flying around,” Thompson said. “Everyone says offensive rebounding is harder than defensive rebounding, but I think it’s the opposite. I don’t know how Kev does it because on the defensive end, he gets those rebounds, so I’ve got to try to get my K-Love on, on the other end.”
Over his six years with the Cavaliers after being selected with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft out of The University of Texas, Thompson has become known for his unrelenting pursuit of the basketball, particularly on the offensive end of the floor.
“He’s crashing the glass every, single shot, and his motor is unbelievable,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “He’s one of the guys that can crash from the perimeter and still get back on the defensive end. He treats every shot like a miss, and he has the motor to crash the glass, and also, get back on defense.”
Because of his effort, Thompson averaged 10.6 rebounds per game over the first two rounds of the playoffs, where the Cavaliers swept through the Indiana Pacers and the Toronto Raptors.
“Just watching the ball and watching where guys shoot,” Thompson said. “If a guy’s shooting a shot in the corner, 70 percent of the missed shots usually come off the other side, 30 percent come off the front of the rim, so it’s playing the percentages and studying your teammates’ shots throughout the course of the game.
“For instance, if a guy like Channing misses a shot, he has a lot of arc on his shot, so if it misses, it’s probably going to be close. With J.R., his shot’s got not as much arc as Channing, so if he misses, it’s a little bit more of a long rebound. It’s just understanding your teammates. I hope they make every shot, but if not, I tell them, ‘Don’t worry. There’s a good chance I’ll be able to get that offensive rebound.’”
Following Wednesday’s practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts, Thompson spoke of the importance of hustling after 50-50 balls and how one offensive rebound down the stretch could impact the game one way or another.
And it is that relentless hustle that Thompson hopes will continue to energize the Cavaliers when they take on either the top-seeded Boston Celtics or the No. 4 seed, the Washington Wizards, in the Eastern Conference Finals.
“What I really lick my chops for is when you get offensive rebounds at the end of the third quarter, fourth quarter,” Thompson said. “That really sucks the life out of an opponent. You can just see it in their face, and especially on the road, it just takes the energy out of the whole arena. That’s what I live for.”