At times, it’s easy to forget that Tristan Thompson is a Laker this season. Signed on the final day of the regular season, Thompson was big man insurance but, more importantly, a veteran presence on the bench for a playoff run.
But just about any pan to the Lakers bench this postseason has featured Thompson front and center leading the celebrations. It’s been only eight games he’s been on the roster, but the list of celebrations is already a long one that is growing nightly.
Tristan Thompson is the best Lakers cheerleader ever, a thread…— Lindsey Nicole (@LindseyBaseball) May 3, 2023
But Thompson wasn’t brought to the Lakers for his vibes, however immaculate they may be. And he’s nothing more than a “break in case of emergency” option when it comes to actually playing.
Instead, his value has been off the court and away from the games. Prior to Game 1 of the Warriors series, Lakers president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka spoke to Spectrum Sportsnet and mentioned Thompson and his work in helping the Lakers prepare for the upcoming series.
Rob mentions Tristan Thompson and LeBron being assets in the Laker Film Room getting ready for this matchup, but also worth noting Phil Handy has more playoff experience vs. the Dubs than both of them, coaching I'm 5 straight finals vs. Golden State. https://t.co/NnceYlfguj— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) May 3, 2023
At the start of the game itself, sideline reporter Chris Haynes revealed that LeBron James told Thompson to prepare to potentially “dust off the cobwebs” in this series.
. @ChrisBHaynes reports that LeBron told Tristan Thompson to "be prepared to dust the cobwebs off" and play in this series.— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) May 3, 2023
While the hope should be that Thompson never plays in this series, it doesn’t mean he can’t be a valuable resource. While so much has been made about how often LeBron has met the Warriors, Thompson was right alongside him for every one of those Finals series.
Similarly, Phil Handy has experience against the Warriors as well, both in Cleveland and in Toronto. Put all that together, and the Lakers have a whole wealth of firsthand experience between Handy, LeBron, and Thompson.
Each of them also brings a unique insight to the situation. Thompson, for example, can help prepare the role players and bigs for what to expect on both ends of the floor.
The Warriors are such a unique team that runs such a distinct style that all the advice and insight possible helps, especially for a Lakers team without much experience against them in the postseason.
So, while Thompson has been incredible on the bench and seems to be perfectly suited to soon place the crown on LeBron’s head after a big bucket in an intense moment at some point these playoffs, he’s doing a lot more behind the scenes as well.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.