November 24, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
58°F

Cavs: Thompson finds the right stroke

INDEPENDENCE — Turns out Tristan Thompson was shooting with the wrong hand all these years.

After shooting .552 from the foul line as a rookie and .608 last season, the 6-foot-9 power forward plans to abandon his left hand in favor of his right this season.

Tristan Thompson

“I started my own blueprint of it,” Thompson said Monday during Cavs media day at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “It’s never been done before.”

Thompson didn’t have much serious basketball coaching while growing up in Toronto, so he figured he should shoot left-handed because he wrote with that hand.

When he started regularly making right-handed push shots last season, it was suggested to him that he might be a natural right-hander, so he started experimenting with it more seriously in the offseason.

The results were good, so Thompson plans to stick with it at the line this season.

“I’m all right now,” he said.

Well, not quite. In addition to writing, Thompson eats and golfs left-handed, but bowls right-handed.

“I’m 22,” he joked. “I’m trying to figure it all out.”

Unsung No. 1

While players like Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Andrew Bynum, Jarrett Jack and Dion Waiters talked to the media from the main podium, No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Bennett was relegated to one of the tables on the side.

The 6-8, 240-pounder from UNLV is healthy after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder and plans on participating in all contact drills when practice starts this morning, but is unlikely to beat out Thompson for the starting power forward spot.

“I just want to find my role,” the soft-spoken 20-year-old said. “If it’s starting, it’s starting. If it’s coming off the bench, it’s coming off the bench.”

Welcome back

Mike Brown, who coached the Cavs to a 272-138 regular-season record from 2005-10 and an NBA Finals berth in 2007, was all smiles when he greeted the media.

“We’re still undefeated,” he said. “I’m saying it. You guys are thinking it.”

Familiar face

DeSagana Diop, taken by the Cavs with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, was among six players with non-guaranteed contracts invited to training camp.

Having also played for the Mavs, Nets and Bobcats, Diop is a veteran of 12 NBA seasons but is just 31 years old. He said he had several training camp invitations, but chose Cleveland because he’s got “a good chance to make the team here.”

The Cavs have 14 players with at least partially guaranteed contracts, so there is only one roster spot available. With no timetable set for Bynum’s return from knee surgery, there’s a chance that spot could go to Diop — at least temporarily — as a third center behind Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller.

“I’ve been blessed to play 12 years,” said Diop, a native of Senegal. “I’m not doing it for the money at all. I love the game.”

Roster

There are 20 players in camp, with Matthew Dellavedova (St. Mary’s/Australia) expected to make the team as the third point guard because a small part of his two-year contract is guaranteed.

In addition to Diop, other invitees include Kenny Kadj (Miami), Michael Lee (St. Bonaventure), Henry Sims (Georgetown), Jermaine Taylor (Tavares HS) and Elliot Williams (Memphis). Diop, Sims, Taylor and Williams, an oft-injured guard drafted No. 22 overall by Portland in 2010, have NBA experience.

Tip-ins

The Cavs’ annual Wine & Gold scrimmage will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at Baldwin Wallace University.

• The first preseason game is Oct. 8 vs. the Milwaukee Bucks at Quicken Loans Arena.

Quote of the day

“I’m looking forward to being in a defensive stance for 31 days (of training camp).” — Irving on playing for the defensive-minded Brown.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.