Tristan Thompson means more to the Chicago Bulls than you might think

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

With the 2022 NBA All Star Break in the rear view, the Chicago Bulls are back to work. The national media may not be talking about the Bulls like a first place team, but that’s exactly where they remain heading into the home stretch of the season.

Tied with the Miami Heat for first in the Eastern Conference at 38-21, the Bulls continue to battle through adversity to play winning basketball.

That adversity has come in the form of many injuries — none more significant than losing Patrick Williams for almost the entirety of this season. Sure, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso mean a heck of a lot to the Bulls, especially defensively. But, when looking at the playoff picture, Chicago has long-needed depth in their front court if they are to compete with the likes of Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Fortunately, the Bulls received a gift when the Indiana Pacers bought out big man Tristan Thompson. The 30-year-old veteran chose to sign with Chicago, and now the Bulls have exactly what they have needed for months now.

Tristan Thompson will prove to be the single move to keep the Chicago Bulls in championship contention.

It seems crazy that Thompson is still just 30 years old, because he’s played for a handful of teams over the past two years in Boston, Sacramento and his brief stint with Indiana. Thompson spent the first nine years of his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers before seeing himself passed around for a couple of seasons.

Make no mistake, though. Thompson is still a high-caliber big man. Whether or not he’s being talked about as still being a good player is irrelevant. The numbers will speak volumes.

This year, between the Kings and Pacers, Thompson is still playing at an extremely high level. He’s been a bench piece, but if you look at his per-36-minute averages, they are outstanding:

15.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game

Thompson is also shooting the best percentage (54.2) from the field since his 2017-2018 campaign.

Maybe the most shocking statistic from Thompson’s 2021-2022 season, so far, is that he’s averaging 5.5 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes. That is a career-high for the former first-round pick.

Despite leading the Eastern Conference, the Bulls are 27th in the league in rebounding and 29th in offensive rebounds. Thompson’s presence on the boards is going to make a huge difference.

Not only that, but Thompson’s size allows the Bulls to match up much better with a guy like Embiid, who has been the Bulls’ kryptonite this season. Once Williams is back in the fold, the Bulls’ three-man rotation in the front court is going to mean a world of difference.

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Chicago is not just fortunate to be in first place, through all of their injuries, but they are in a position of power now. Billy Donovan has had this team rolling, still, and they aren’t even healthy. Adding a veteran big man with championship and playoff experience, plus a major rebounding presence, was exactly what the doctor ordered.