Tristan Thompson entered the season with high expectations. The starting spot at power forward was handed to him with the departure of Antawn Jamison, and the reports indicated that no Cavalier worked harder than Thompson at improving in the offseason. The 21 year old has taken his lumps, both on the court (where he was forced to wear a mask for an extended amount of time), and off the court, from fans and media impatient with his progress. The former is predictable because Thompson plays a physical style of basketball and brings lots of energy. The latter, however, makes no sense. Lets explore why.

Both in the immediate aftermath of Tristan Thompson's rookie season, and in the preseason, Fear the Sword took a patient, and optimistic approach to what Cleveland should expect from the young power forward. Reading back on what I wrote in May, I was actually harder on Thompson than I remembered:

Offensively, he was just as raw as advertised. There is no post up game to speak of. He has a baby hook with decent touch on it, but has no clue how to get himself in position to use it. He travels when he does get the ball with his back to the basket (though his turnover rate isn't terrible, all things considered), and if a stronger Power Forward is on him, he can get bullied a bit and shoot falling away from the basket. This would be bad for a good shooter, and Tristan Thompson is not a good shooter.

Still, I liked what I had seen defensively:

Ultimately, he has all the tools to put his game together and be a great shot blocker and contester, while playing excellent on ball defense, and giving help to his teammates when they get beat off the dribble.

Conrad in the preseason set aside some specific areas of improvement he was looking for:

When looking at Tristan's rookie year, there's three really obvious areas where he needs improvement: defensive rebounding, shooting percentage, and free throw percentage ... So Tristan just needs to improve those three areas and he'll be a stud, right? Sure, but it's unreasonable to expect him to put it all together in just one offseason. But the bottom line is that we need to see progress is free throw shooting, defensive rebounding, and field goal percentage (specifically at the rim). His minutes will undoubtedly increase and he'll get plenty of time with Kyrie Irving.