It’s been over a year since LeBron James strapped on his giant testicle-kicking boot and whomped every last Clevelander in the plums before heading to America’s wang. We were all so naive then. So young, with such supple, non-saggy breasts. The Cavs are certainly older now, droopier. They’ve had a rough year, done some embarrassing things in public they wish people didn’t know about. But that’s in the past. James has moved on, the NBA has moved on and Cleveland has finally stopped standing over the sink, eating dry cereal right out of the box. The Cavs are on the rebound. Sure, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson aren’t James, but how could they be? James was special. He got Cleveland in their prime, like Timberlake did with Britney. And Cameron. And Biel. Let’s not dwell on Cleveland’s old flame, let’s evaluate the fact that it needs two new ones to make up for percentage of the old. It’ll hurt Cavs fans about the same, but at least it’s a it less played out. So let’s look at one of the new chicks on Cleveland’s arm and his prospects for the 2011 fantasy basketball season.
Earlier this season, the Cavs surprisingly rid themselves of J.J. Hickson, an occasionally energetic banger with the ability to get to the rim, clean glass and probably miss a handful of awkward jump shots and free throws. In his place? A shorter, lighter version of the same thing. Thompson isn’t the same type of player Hickson is, but he will pose many of the same problems Hickson did in his tenure with the Cavs. First and foremost (or firstmost if you wanna build a theme): motivation. He showed last year with Texas that he has the ability to mentally remove himself from the game, float 15 rows back, eat someone else’s nachos and watch while someone else goes for rebounds. And considering he’s the first guy off the bench backing up Antawn Jamison’s ailing body, having a young rebounder who sporadically opts out of that task is not a harbinger for success. And if his energy doesn’t dip from lack of touches, one has to wonder how motivated he’ll be playing on the 2011 Cavs, which I assume will feel like playing on the 2010 Wizards. Also, he shoots the ball like he’s two-hand tossing a laundry bag over a high fence. So there. That’s me beating up on the guy. Now here’s me being up on the guy. First off, he can rebound and has the wingspan of a damn pterodactyl. Has the second-longest reach among power forwards in this 2011 rookie class (9’0.25″), which is about the same as Amar’e Stoudemire despite being about an inch shorter and five pounds lighter. On the nights when he’s motivated to establish position (something can also do well), it wouldn’t surprise me if he leads the game in total rebounds. In short, he’s a banger. He bangs, Ricky Martin (notice the use of the comma, lest there be rumors spread). And all that banging he does puts him on the line a lot, which would be a bigger asset if he could shoot better than .487 from the line. I’m going to go out on a very short, very sturdy limb and say he can probably improve on that almost worthless free throw percentage. He’ll be used sparingly in the opening months of the season (REAL sparingly if there’s a lockout!) but should eventually get a shot at 28 mpg. I wouldn’t expect miracles, nor would I expect to see him off any draft boards before Round 15. I’m guessing, 24 mpg, 8.5/6.5/1, with 1.1 stl+blk per game by year’s end and if that’s impressive arm candy to show off to friends, I’m sure they’ll support you in your recovery.