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Thompson is a great rebounder, but he has to improve his defense.
According to AP Sports Writer Tom Withers (via Yahoo! Sports), there's a chance that Anthony Bennett, who suffered a strained right knee in early March, could be out for the season. But even if he doesn't play another game, the situation between Bennett and Tristan Thompson is interesting.
Bennett is clearly a big part of the Cavaliers' future, and he has an intriguing skill set, poor season or not. But Bennett's also a clear 4, and...um...so is Thompson.
Cleveland has experimented with smaller lineups that featured both of them, but those lineups have been an absolute disaster on both ends. Eventually, the Cavs are probably going to have to choose between the two of them, and right now, Thompson is the one with the most to prove.
Yes, Bennett's season has been rough, but he's the younger player, and Thompson has plateaued this year. His highly publicized shooting-hand switch likely plays a part in his stunted offensive growth, but the bigger concern for the Cavs is Thompson's defense.
Cleveland has been awful defensively with Thompson on the floor, and his rim protection is quite frankly disastrous.
Opponents are shooting nearly 60 percent at the rim against Thompson, the second-worst mark in the league among players who are facing five or more shots per game at the basket, via NBA.com's SportVU.
That's passable for players like Kevin Love or Spencer Hawes, who have the shooting range to be paired with defensive-minded bigs without compromising offensive spacing. A healthy Bennett will hopefully also have that kind of range. But Thompson doesn't, and likely never will, putting his future with the Cavs in jeopardy.
Thompson is a productive player and a terrific rebounder, and it wouldn't be shocking if Cleveland decided to keep him around. Still, it'd definitely be encouraging to see solid defense from him down the stretch.