When you think about Tristan Thompson, the first things that come to mind are rebounding, his time spent playing with LeBron James, which included winning the 2016 NBA title, and, well, off-court activities. Certainly, no one has ever confused him for a 3-point shooter, and for good reason considering he had attempted just nine of them coming into this season.
Just a few minutes into the game, he came up the floor trailing the play and took a pass Collin Sexton at the top of the key. Joel Embiid, assuming like everyone else that Thompson was no threat from beyond the arc, simply ignored him. With no defensive pressure whatsoever, Thompson calmly walked into a 3-pointer and rattled it home.
Later in the second quarter, Thompson found himself with the ball on the perimeter once again, this time on the sideline next to the Sixers’ bench. As he did in the first quarter, Embiid opted not to guard him that far out. So, Thompson set his feet and launched another 3-pointer. Swish. And as he ran back down the floor, he let his opponents know about it.
With those two shots, Thompson made more 3-pointers in the first half than he had in his entire career leading up to this game. In fact, the only other 3-pointer he’s ever made came earlier this season against the Pacers. For his career, Thompson is now 3-of-14 from downtown, including 3-of-5 this season.
Obviously we shouldn’t expect him to turn into a marksman all of the sudden, but it’s definitely interesting that he feels comfortable enough to let those shots fly. After all, everyone has to start somewhere.
It’s also fitting that Thompson’s breakout game from beyond the arc came against the Sixers, who of course have Ben Simmons. The youngster’s unwillingness to take 3s has been a consistent storyline for pretty much his entire career, and despite finally making one during the preseason, he’s yet to shoot one this season since the games started mattering. All players are different, but if even Tristan Thompson is shooting 3s now, it makes it even more remarkable that Simmons won’t even try.