Shoot for It: With John Beneville ’16 and Alex Lee ’16

by John Beneville and Alex Lee | 9/17/15 6:01pm

What’s up Dartmouth!? John Beneville ’16 and Alex Lee ’16 here. Our weekly column “Shoot For It” will feature basketball banter through the eyes of two very different sports fans.

Alex is majoring in mathematics and economics, but if we’re being honest, he spends most of his time playing pick-up basketball. You have probably seen him at Collis getting way too emotional over a regular season basketball game. He grew up in Massachusetts, but his favorite team is the Miami Heat. *Cue the boos.* He became a Miami Heat fan in 2010. *Cue even louder boos.* He continues to ardently root, however, for the Miami Heat today and hopes that the addition of Justise Winslow and the emergence of Hassan Whiteside can help them challenge the Cavaliers this upcoming season.

John has been a Los Angeles Lakers fan for life and recently saw Alex sign yet another one-year deal to ride on the Heat’s bandwagon. John admires competitors and skilled players, which means he hates LeBron James. This summer John was given a free movie ticket to see that movie LeBron “starred” in, but he tore it up into little pieces and watched a Kobe Bryant highlight video instead.

This week we will be talking about Tristan Thompson and his recent attempt to get a max contract from the Cleveland Cavaliers. After TT replaced Kevin Love in the starting lineup during the playoffs, he averaged 10.6 points, 12.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. Yet, this is somewhat of an understatement. At a young 24 years old, Thompson was a menace on the offensive glass, and on the other end of the floor, he held opponents to 10.3 percent from beyond the arc. For a big man, this is extremely impressive, and the defensive stat showcases Thompson’s quick feet and ability to effectively keep up with smaller and quicker players.

Aptly, the Cavaliers want to lock in Thompson’s contract rather than allow him to accept his one year, $6.8 million qualifying offer. They reportedly offered him five years and $80 million, but he and his agent Rich Paul — coincidentally also Lebron’s agent — are holding out for a maximum contract of five years and $90 million. Furthermore, Rich Paul claims that if Thompson is “forced” to accept his qualifying offer this season, he promises that TT will leave the Cavaliers during the 2016 free agency. The sides reportedly have not moved an inch in the past two months, and as training camp looms, it is unclear how the situation will play out.

John’s Take:

Here’s the deal, Tristan Thompson is a great rebounder, has a better motor than most and defends at an elite level. The problem though is that’s all he can really do. Other than that, he walks like a literal duck out of water and waddles around aimlessly on offense. We don’t have to look at Thompson’s backside more than twice to know that he can probably squat all the weights in Cleveland, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to a $90 million contract. And while I am sure that King James — used ironically here — would love to have Thompson back to bail him out of more abysmal fourth quarters and leg “cramps,” Thompson’s just not worth that much. This could be another case of LeBron believing not only that he is the “chosen one,” but that he is also the “chosen” coach and the “chosen” General Manager. Someone should tell LeBron James that he needs to focus on basketball. I swear the dude does more extra-curriculars than the ’19’s did in high school.

Alex’s Take:

I find it interesting how John’s take on TT somehow became an “objective” commentary on Lebron James, but I must admit that I do agree with his appraisal of the Tristan Thompson’s situation. Thompson has a sturdy body, quick feet, great energy and relentless motivation essentially every minute he’s on the court. Thompson, however, has a very limited offensive game — he’s not quick to the basket and he cannot drive right or left. I don’t even want to think about his jumper. The fact of the matter is that Tristan Thompson would not be in the position that he’s in, if not for Lebron James. The most impressive part of LBJ’s game is the fact that he raises the performance of his teammates to previously unknown levels, unlike a certain aging garter snake playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Whether it’s Matthew Dellavedova, J.R. Smith or Timofey Mozgov, Lebron transforms nobodies and washed-up players into players who otherwise would never even be in the conversation for a max contract. Tristan Thompson is the latest beneficiary of the Lebron bump. Tristan, take the five year, $80 million deal. You don’t want to risk that much money on ego.

Have any basketball topics you’d like us to discuss? Send an email over to sports@thedartmouth.com.