NBA: 5 non-star trade targets that could change the playoff race

NBA Washington Wizards Davis Bertans (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
NBA Washington Wizards Davis Bertans (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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NBA Cleveland Cavaliers Tristan Thompson (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Tristan Thompson – Cleveland Cavaliers

With all of the tantrums and drama, the first half of the season has been about as damaging for the Cavs as a house party with Jordyn Woods. Except that in the Cavs’ situation, Tristan Thompson ironically comes out looking pretty good. Who would have thought?

Thompson is enjoying a career year. Per Basketball-Reference, he’s averaging career bests in points, rebounds, and assists while showing flashes of the guy who was a key contributor for the 2016 championship team.

He doesn’t come without his flaws, though. He’s a poor shooter, inconsistent from the free-throw line, and can get exposed defensively out on the perimeter when he has to switch on a shiftier guard.  Even still, Thompson provides value in the areas that not many players want to. He’s a truly elite rebounder when he’s engaged and a physical body to put on opposing big men. There’s value in that – especially in the playoffs when the game slows down.

There are certain matchups that could make Thompson tough to keep in the game during a playoff series, but I look at a team like the Celtics and see a perfect fit. They need size and depth on the interior and don’t really have a shot to make it out of the East unless they add some reinforcements to that area.

Think about their path through the East. If the season ended today, they’d draw Joel Embiid and the 76ers in round one. If they won that they’d face Giannis’ Bucks in round two and the only strategy we’ve seen work against him is to build a wall in the paint with big bodies. The Celtics don’t have the personnel to match up with either of those two teams right now and Thompson could go a long way toward filling that need.

Thompson even comes with a get out of jail free card at the end of the season when he becomes a free agent. So even if it doesn’t work out, you can let him walk and try something new. For the right price, Thompson can still provide a lot of value for the right team.