The Sacramento Kings acquired added to their crowded front court when they acquired Tristan Thompson before free agency this year in a three-team trade with the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics, with the Kings sending Delon Wright to Atlanta.
From a talent perspective, the trade was a bit of a head-scratcher for Sacramento as the Kings sent out the most talented player in the deal in Wright. The deal, made days after the Kings selected Davion Mitchell was likely a move to clear out the logjam in Sacramento’s backcourt, but it also ended up furthering crowding the front court.
Thompson never really seemed to get comfortable on the court last season with the Celtics, as the majority of his numbers went down from his years in Cleveland. Is Thompson’s career on a downward trajectory or was last year a blip for a guy that has some really solid campaigns?
Let’s take a look at the best and worst-case scenarios for Tristan Thompson this season.
Best-case: Thompson steps in and grabs the backup center position from the likes of Alex Len and Damian Jones.
Thompson probably enters the season as the best rebounder on the roster, having back-to-back seasons of 10 plus rebounds with the Cavaliers. He also still holds some value as a guy that can protect the rim.
At age 30, Thompson has declined athletically enough to where he is not the guy who was sticking with Steph Curry on switches during the finals, but he is still a big body who can deter guys at the rim.
If Thompson can be a spark plug guy that is getting a couple of offensive rebounds every time he’s in there as well as protecting the rim, he could end up being useful to the Kings this season.
Worst-case: Thompson ends up buried on the Kings’ bench as other big men step up, and his off-court behavior becomes a storyline a least once during the season.
In recent years, Thompson at times has been more relevant off the court than he’s been on the court, due to his previous relationship with reality TV star Khloe Kardashian.
The Kings can’t really afford to have a non-essential player causing off-the-court drama, so you would think they will have a short leash when it comes to Thompson.
On the court, Thompson has fallen off a bit in recent seasons and if that descent continues, the Kings have a ton of other big men on the roster that should be able to step in for Thompson.
The most likely scenario is that Thompson ends up splitting time with Alex Len as the Kings’ backup center playing somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes per night. I think Thompson’s time as a legit starting center is behind him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns himself into a useful piece for the Kings this season.