Longhorns in the NBA: Thompson finds his role, Joseph continues to struggle

Abhishek Mukund

Tristan Thompson

Tristan Thompson survived the NBA trade deadline last Thursday and will remain a Cleveland Cavalier at least until the end of the season.

This comes after a week in which the Cavaliers traded away six players on their roster in exchange for four players from around the league. Thompson was rumored to be headed to the Los Angeles Clippers in a package deal for All-Star center DeAndre Jordan, but the trade never materialized due to Thompson’s pricey contract.

The former Texas big man has found his way back into Cleveland’s rotation after not seeing much playing time in December or January. Thompson is averaging 27.8 minutes in his last five games, the highest for him all season. In those five games, Thompson has averaged 10.8 points and 6.8 rebounds. His February field goal percentage of 71.4 percent is the highest it’s been for any month of the season thus far. Thompson has also taken more shots in just these five games than he did in the entire month of October, November
and December.

Although Thompson’s season averages of 6.3 points and 6.1 rebounds are still on pace for career lows, the trend of the last few games could help these numbers rise. The Cavaliers do not have many other centers on the roster, and All-Star forward Kevin Love is expected to be out for at least another four weeks with a broken hand, so Thompson should continue to see playing time for the
foreseeable future.

 Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant had his lowest scoring output of the season in a 17-point win over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. Durant scored 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting while grabbing six rebounds and passing for six assists. Durant didn’t have much of a need to show up in this game as four Golden State players managed to score in double figures. Still, Durant averaged 30.3 points in the previous four games, so the low scoring output against the Spurs came as a surprise.

Durant, as well as Warriors’ teammates Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, will all play in this weekend’s NBA All-Star game. Durant will be the sole Warrior on Team LeBron.

Cory Joseph

Indiana Pacers guard Cory Joseph has struggled to find the net in the last four games. The former Texas guard has shot a putrid 25 percent from the field during that span, highlighted by an awful 0-for-6 performance in a win over the Boston Celtics last Friday. Joseph did help his team in other facets of the game, though, as he totaled seven assists and had the responsibility of defending All-Star guard Kyrie Irving.

Joseph followed up the rough outing against Boston with just two points, four assists and six rebounds in a win over the New York Knicks on Sunday. The seven-year pro struggled yet again to shoot the ball, going 1-of-3 from the field and missing his only two free throws of the night. The All-Star break may help Joseph get back into a rhythm.