Tristan Thompson Says He Learned How to Lead From LeBron James

Collin Sexton, Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson

For veteran Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson, the first 10 games of the 2019-20 season have seen him flourish on the court and provide badly needed leadership.

Thompson says that the latter contribution is something he learned from being a teammate of LeBron James for four seasons.

Chris Fedor of noted how Thompson’s willingness to connect with all of his Cavaliers teammates has made an impression on their new coach, John Beilein.

Yet Thompson made sure to acknowledge that he’s basing that approach on how James was willing to impart his wisdom between 2014 and 2018. That era saw the two players help the Cavs win one NBA title and reach the finals all four seasons.

“But Thompson’s leadership extends to [Kevin] Porter, [Collin] Sexton, [Dylan] Windler and everyone else on the team,” Fedor wrote. “Beilein called Thompson’s guidance ‘great.’ It’s a role he has embraced.

“’It’s fun. I think just because I have put so much time in the game and been around LeBron, one of the greatest to ever play, I was a sponge,’ Thompson said. ‘I took his tricks, his approach, use it and pay it forward. That’s what the league is all about. Us players, you take from the vets, pass it on to the young guys and hopefully whatever gems I give them, when they get older, they give it to the next generation. That’s how you keep the game growing and keep basketball developing in a right direction.'”

The Cavaliers narrowly missed getting to .500 on Tuesday night, losing a 98-97 road contest to the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite the defeat, the Cavs ended their brief road swing by winning two of the three games played.

After struggling with injuries the past two years, Thompson has bounced back strong this season, especially in the scoring department. He’s averaging 16.5 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.4 blocks per game.

One key reason why the 28-year-old Thompson is motivated to deliver a solid campaign is because he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. In the final year of his five-year, $82 million contract, Thompson is being paid $18.5 million for the 2019-20 campaign.

Prior to the start of this season, the idea of the Cavaliers signing him to another contract extension was seemingly remote. That’s made him a potential trade candidate, though this fast start has created some speculation that the Cavs will make a concerted effort to keep the 10-year veteran.

At the moment, Thompson will continue to focus on his game and the further establishment of chemistry with teammates. He and the Cavaliers will next be in action on Thursday night at home against the Miami Heat. That game will tip off just after 6 p.m. EST, an earlier starting time spurred on by the Cleveland Browns’ Thursday night football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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