While defeating the Sacramento Kings, 125-118, on Wednesday night to extend their win streak to five games, the Chicago Bulls added some frontcourt help to their team with Tristan Thompson.
Pacers head coach, Rick Carlisle, announced the news during his postgame press conference Wednesday night, dropping a few hints on who Thompson would sign to and ultimately giving the answer by the end of his spiel.
Rick Carlisle on Tristan Thompson playing his final game with the Indiana Pacers: pic.twitter.com/RWjdUaYQTj
— Alex Golden (@AlexGoldenNBA) February 17, 2022
Thompson, 30, was dealt from the Kings to the Indiana Pacers as part of the Sabonis for Hield/Haliburton trade just before the deadline. As anticipated, the Pacers bought out his contract and the Bulls jumped at the opportunity to sign him.
Thompson’s name was attached to the Bulls in the buyout market for a couple of reasons. 1.) Thompson fills a gap for the Bulls in bench rebounding, rim protection and size in the paint. 2.) The Bulls remained completely silent at the trade deadline.
The Indiana Pacers will waive center Tristan Thompson, coach Rick Carlisle says. Thompson will sign a new deal with the Chicago Bulls after he clears waivers.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 17, 2022
It’s no question the Bulls could use a big, lengthy presence on the floor with them, especially on the defensive end. Thompson represents a 6-foot-9, 240-pound frame.
This season, the Bulls have ranked in the top-10 in the NBA defensively, near the start of the season. Through the calamity of injuries that have made things difficult on defense (mainly Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball), the team has held their ranking 18th in the league.
However, the squad ranks 24th in the NBA for points allowed in the paint, giving up 48.9 points in the paint per game. Compared to the 110.2 they give up in total, their opponents’ points in the paint account for 44.3 percent of their scoring.
Thompson can give a helping hand off the bench. This season, he’s played just 15.1 minutes per game between the 30 games he played for the Kings and three with the Pacers in the last week.
Thompson keeps his matchups to 47.5 percent shooting between 5-9 feet of the basket and 38 percent from 10-14 feet. He gives up over 60 percent of baskets right under the rim, but his presence is inevitable around the rim.
The other aspect Thompson helps for is rebounding. Despite Nikola Vucevic’s fifth-leading rebounding statistics at 11.7 per game, the Bulls are not an efficient rebounding team. They rank second to last in this category.
Thompson pulls down 5.2 per the 15.1 minutes per game he plays this season. Per 36 minutes, that’s 12.5 rebounds per game, which would rank third in the NBA. Optimistically, Thompson also performs 2.2 box outs per game too, which ranks 25th in the NBA, even during his limited time frame.
The name “Tristan Thompson” is nothing to glamor over. Thompson is well past his prime days of the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers. This is his fourth team in the past two seasons, showcasing the NBA’s lack of belief in him.
Regardless, I would rank this move as a solid signing, mostly because the Bulls will have to waive either Alfonzo McKinnie or Matt Thomas to make this a done deal. That exchange seems like a win.
McKinnie played nine straight games between Jan. 3 and Jan. 19, providing valuable minutes, and enough for him to receive a guaranteed contract. However, since the last game of that streak, he’s played in just five games.
Thomas’s play has sharply declined too, seeing as his limited athleticism and his three-point shot crutch provides little value to the guard-heavy Bulls. Once Caruso and Ball return, the need for Thomas slips.
Thompson is nothing to get overly excited about yet could help the Bulls protect the paint and rebound better for cheap value.
As the kids these days say, trust in AK.
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