Q+A: Tristan Thompson
SLAMonline catches up with the Cavs rookie.
by Tracy Weissenberg / @basketballista
Fourth overall pick Tristan Thompson has teamed with top pick Kyrie Irving to rejuvenate the rebuilding Cavaliers. While Irving faced the spotlight right away, Thompson received his first career start on March 18 against the Hawks. He scored 7 points in the loss, but the team rebounded the next night behind Thompson’s career-high 27 points.
When I caught up with Thompson Wednesday, I asked him about the biggest adjustments he’s made as a rookie getting acclimated to the NBA. His response prompted me to ask Hawks guard Joe Johnson what he wishes he could go back and tell himself as a rookie, based on what he knows now.
Johnson said, “The importance of getting the proper rest and eating the proper way. My rookie year, I had no clue of that. I was delirious half the time, playing night in and night out. I just wasn’t used to just eating right, getting my proper sleep, staying up all times of the night. And now, as I’ve gotten older I know the importance…now it’s totally different, I have to eat right and get my proper rest, especially within this short season. You really got to value that.”
A good night sleep may be hard to come by in a 66-game season, but so far it hasn’t seemed to affect Thompson and Irving, as they continue to make their mark on the Cavs. As for the concentrated schedule, Thompson says he enjoys it. Here’s what else he had to say on his rookie season.
SLAM: What was it like getting your first start a few days ago?
Tristan Thompson: It felt good. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to win, we played the Hawks. But you know we bounced back against New Jersey, and tonight we got another crack at it so hopefully I’ll come out ready and play.
SLAM: What has been your biggest adjustment to the NBA throughout this season?
TT: Biggest adjustment, probably just the amount of traveling that goes on. You know, in a college season you do a lot of traveling, but you’re usually in conference, so flights are not too long. Now you got, especially back to backs, you might get in at 2 o’clock in the morning so eating right and definitely getting your rest is important.
SLAM: Have the veterans told you the importance of that from the beginning?
TT: Antawn [Jamison] and Andy [Varejao], they definitely stressed to us, the young guys, how important getting your rest is. It’s pretty easy, just know yourself and know your body, and develop habits.
SLAM: You’ve had to come in and adjust during this condensed season, so is it more intense having so many games each week?
TT: No, I actually enjoy it. I enjoy playing games—back to backs, and so much games, I enjoy it. It hasn’t been bad, I’ve been enjoying it. You know, next year you’ll have more practices and not as much games [per week], so it’ll be different, but you know, I’m enjoying it.
SLAM: You may be the only NBA player who’s said he’s enjoyed this condensed season.
TT: [Laughs] I like playing games, I’m young! If you ask me when I’m 34 I might say something different, but right now I’m 21 and I’m liking it.
SLAM: What has been the best experience of being in the NBA so far?
TT: Being able to play the game you love, especially going to different cities and seeing different crowds and just competing. What more can you ask for?
SLAM: I asked you a while ago what your ‘welcome to the NBA moment’ was and you said getting booed in Toronto. Have you had any since then?
TT: [Laughs] No, not since Toronto. Probably when we go back, they might boo again but I’m ready for it.
SLAM: How was All-Star Weekend in Orlando?
TT: It was a fun time, I was able to connect with other pros and enjoy Orlando and have a good time.
SLAM: If you’re talking to rookies next year, what advice would you give them?
TT: Just soak up the whole experience. You’re only a rookie one time and just make sure you take care of your body.
SLAM: How would you describe the identity of this team?
TT: I think our identity is a young group that likes to play hard. Every night, we’re gonna try to throw the first blow at you and play hard. If teams start respecting you and saying you’re a hard playing team, then that’s a good thing.
SLAM: Do you have any personal goals before the end of the season?
TT: Just getting better every day. The person that I am now, you want to be better than that come April, so just getting better every day is the key.