Eh Game

Canada’s Tristan Thompson trying a ‘crossover’ that’s never been done in the NBA

Tristan Thompson, going up righty over Carmelo Anthony last season (The Associated Press)

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson wears No. 13, which coincidentally corresponds to August 13, International Left-Handers' Day. So much for that connection!

The big man from Brampton, Ont., went though high school, the University of Texas and his first two seasons in the NBA believing he was a southpaw. At times last season, Thompson began attacking the basket right-handed, while maintaining he was a lefty. Now, weeks after photos were published of Thompson practising his free throws right-handed, he's affirmed to Sportsnet's Michael Grange that he's now trying to be a right-handed player. After being limited offensively as a left-hander, the 22-year-old is hoping to broaden his offensive repertoire by shooting right. Long-time basketball exec Jerry Colangelo, who has been around the NBA for 45 years, told Grange he has "never heard of" such a switch.


More than 70 per cent of his attempts were inside 10 feet, where he converted a rate of 56 per cent on tip-ins, dunks, put-backs and a variety of other shots. The issue for Thompson is that he only took 84 shots from outside 10 feet and just 51 from outside 16 feet.

In other words, once Thompson was anywhere on the floor just outside the distance of the free throw line, he basically wouldn’t shoot, allowing defenders the luxury of sagging back to the paint and mitigating his ability to drive the basket – one of his strengths — or leaving him to double-team the ball, bogging down the Cavaliers attack.

Thompson decided it was time to do something about it. He’d always been effective around the basket finishing with both hands and had even shot a few jumpers right-handed, if unconsciously. He’d put a lot of time into developing his left-handed jumper – one measure is his free-throw shooting, which improved from 42 per cent in his last year of college to a verging on respectable 60 per cent last season – but wasn’t happy with the results or the feel.

“I was in Phoenix (last November) and I just started shooting right-handed and got a lot of compliments on it,” Thompson said this week while in training camp with the Canadian national team.

“A week later when we got back to Cleveland and got one of the ball-boys to record me and I shot 100 jumpers with my left and 100 with my right and it was significantly better with my right-hand. There was just a better flow to it with my right, it looked smoother.” (Sportsnet)

Don't say Thompson had to do something to retain his uniqueness after new teammate Anthony Bennett surpassed him as the highest-drafted Canadian player. It sounds like this move was in the works for a while.

Bennett, of course, went No. 1 overall in June's NBA draft. Thompson went to the Cavs as the No. 4 pick in 2011. With apologies for piggybacking on Grange's work, it just seems cool that a Canadian is the apparent first to try such a re-invention in a game invented by a Canadian.

Thompson and Canada host Jamaica in the final leg of the Jack Donohue International Classic later Saturday in Toronto (7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, Sportsnet 360).

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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