Longhorns in the NBA: Thompson return poses difficult decision for Cavs coach

Henry Corwin

Former Longhorn point guards D.J. Augustin and Isaiah Taylor have both returned successfully from injury, while Tristan Thompson’s pending return is putting Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue in a tough spot. The former Longhorn center is returning to a Cavs team that has won 12 straight, thanks largely in part to inserting Kevin Love to the post. Here’s how the rest of the season has shaped up for the three former members of the burnt orange. 

D.J. Augustin

Augustin has an impressive scoring streak that started last week against the Philadelphia 76ers. Augustin has scored in double figures in four straight games, against some tough competition, too. In addition to the 76ers, he had three impressive performances against the Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors, all playoff contenders. And while only one of these performances translated into a win with the defeat of Oklahoma City, it is encouraging to see Augustin back in rhythm after he missed seven games because of a hamstring injury.

Augustin is continuing to come off the bench, averaging 19.5 minutes per game. Orlando is currently sitting at 10–15 and have lost eight of their last 10. If this season turns into a wash, Augustin’s minutes could wane, going to Orlando’s young point guard of the future, Elfrid Payton.

Tristan Thompson

Thompson has been out since Nov. 1 with a calf injury and is expected to return sometime this week. He has missed 14 games with his injury but should be completely healthy before the end of the month. There is one problem: the Cavaliers have been playing well in Thompson’s absence, and head coach Tyronn Lue must find a balance between utilizing Thompson and not disrupting the team’s current chemistry.

Going into Wednesday’s matchup with the Kings, the Cavs have won 12 straight games. Lue hinted at bringing Thompson off the bench upon his return. 

Isaiah Taylor

Just under a month ago, Taylor began seeing NBA playing time, earning a spot in the Hawks rotation as a secondary point guard. But his consistent appearances ceased last week, when Taylor suffered a retinal tear in his eye and had to miss five games.

Since his return, Taylor is averaging 17 minutes per game, near his average before the injury. In Taylor’s second game back from injury against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, he put up 11 points in 17 minutes, helping guide Atlanta to 114-102 win. Look for Taylor to continue to be part of the rotation; it doesn’t look like his time on the mend has affected his minutes.