When Tristan Thompson signed a five-year, $82 million guaranteed deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2015, many people believed he was going to be tremendously overpaid since his averages were sub-par and he is nowhere near being an All-Star. Let’s also not forget that when Thompson received this contract, he was merely a bench player.

Under head coach Tyronn Lue, Thompson became zathe team’s permanent starting center, which helped him increase his overall numbers. However, he still didn’t seem deserving of his large contract, until now.

Tristan Thompson’s playoff value

Thompson may be offensively limited, but he has become a crucial piece to the team’s success. The 26-year-old is proving his value mostly on the defensive end and rebounding. During these playoffs, he is averaging nearly a double-double on 60 percent shooting. However, with Thompson, his numbers don’t exactly show how valuable he has been to the team.

Thompson’s greatest feature is his ability to crash the offensive glass. During the playoffs, he’s been averaging 4.8 offensive rebounds per game, giving the Cavs extra possessions. Most of these extra possessions have been translated into points for Cleveland. They are a potent offensive team and with extra opportunities, they will certainly capitalize.

Casual fans don’t understand how valuable it is for the Cavaliers to have a big man that can corral offensive rebounds at a high level. For opposing teams, Thompson’s energy and hustle is very frustrating because he is always around the basket challenging other big men on the glass, meaning teams have to put extra focus on rebounding in addition to containing LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving.

Thompson’s role is very similar to Bulls legend

On championship teams, you definitely need a guy like Thompson, who doesn’t worry about scoring and knows his role. His role on the Cavaliers is very similar to Dennis Rodman’s on the Chicago Bulls. Obviously, Rodman was a better, more consistent player, but Thompson is making a similar impact on the Cavs as Rodman did for Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

Sometimes people forget how important rebounding really is. In this new era of basketball, scoring and outside shooting have overshadowed the value of other aspects of the game. Thompson seemingly raises his level of play and energy during the post-season, and his $16.4 million annually is clearly being justified.

The reason Thompson got paid that much is strictly because he is an elite offensive rebounder and energy player, and the Cavaliers value those attributes. He may be undersized, but he makes up for it with his athleticism and hustle, becoming an adequate fit for the defending champions.