Eight games into the ’23-’24 season, and the Detroit Pistons are 2-6. They currently have a 5-game losing streak; I am reminded of the words of the late great football coach Dennis Green… “They are who we thought they were.” When you listen to the local media in the metro Detroit area, that’s what they think of this year’s Pistons. I understand the frustration as a local Detroiter and low-key Pistons fan. The Pistons’ last playoff appearance was during the 2018-2019 season when they got swept by the Bucks.
It’s hard to be optimistic in Detroit
The last playoff game the Pistons won was May 26, 2008, when they defeated the Boston Celtics 95-74. There’s a bit of hope and optimism each year, but then it fades away as the losses pile up. Let me be the voice of optimism for the Pistons. While the win-loss record is “same ol pistons,” this season is giving me a sense of hope for the future of this squad. We know about Cade, Stew, Ivey & Duren, but the most essential piece of this Piston’s future may be Ausar Thompson.
Already meeting expectations and exceeding others.
The questions were there when the Pistons drafted Thompson with the 5th pick in the 2023 draft. Many draft pundits saw Thompson as an elite defensive player who needed to improve his offensive game, and for the most part, they’ve been correct. In the first minute of his NBA season debut, Thompson had three blocks and five blocks overall in his season debut! When you watch him play, nothing about him says he’s a rookie. His IQ on the defensive end is that of a seasoned NBA veteran; he always finds himself around the ball making a play, and he’s never rattled, no matter what direction the game is going in. In his first eight games this season, Thompson has a stat line of 12 PTS, 9.0 REB, 3.8 AST, 1.5 STLS & 1.9 BLKS.
Thompson’s All-Around Impact
In Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns, Thompson scored 14 points, grabbed nine rebounds, dished out four assists, and had four steals and four blocks. He is the third rookie in NBA history to have a stat line that in a game, joining Ralph Sampson (1984) & Kevin Garnett (1996). Please think of the company he’s allied with that one game. Ralph Sampson was an all-star and NBA rookie of the year in his first season, while Kevin Garnett had a career that included 12 all-defensive teams and a Defensive Player of the Year award.
Do you want me to go deeper into the impact that Thompson has on the court? In his eight games, Thompson is one of two players in history to record 30+ assists, 12+ steals, and 15+ blocks. The other player to do that? Michael Jordan. If you do not understand this guy’s potential as a defensive ace, check out this stat from @nbastats.
FG% when guarded by Ausar Thompson:
- 25% — SGA (2-8 FG)
- 25% — Lamelo Ball (1-4)
- 38% — Klay Thompson (3-8)
- 40% — Jimmy Butler (2-5)
- 40% — CJ McCollum (2-5)
- 40% — Terry Rozier (2-5)
- 43% — Kevin Durant (3-7)
Thompson is already a piece to build around.
This is a rookie, and he’s already taking on the challenge of guarding the team’s best perimeter player. In his rookie season, Thompson is responsible for being that “utility player” that all championship contenders need to get over the threshold. When you talk about the dynasty in Golden State, you’ll first mention Steph, Klay, KD & Iggy, but don’t forget about Draymond and his abilities to do everything well to keep both the offense and defense effective. When you talk about the Nuggets championship run this past season, you’ll speak of Jokic & Murray. However, some may say that Bruce Brown’s ability to do everything well helped the offense and defense flow more effectively when Jokic & Murray wasn’t on the court.
In closing, When you talk about Pistons basketball, Understand that this is still a young team that is going to grow with the coaching of Monty Williams and his staff; understand that players won’t play if they don’t give effort and energy on BOTH ends of the floor (Jaden Ivey) and also understand this, the mainstream media has Cade as the foundational piece that the Pistons build around BEFORE HIS ROOKIE DEAL IS UP, Ausuar Thompson will be that foundational piece.