It’s too early to make a prediction about the player Ausar Thompson will become for the Detroit Pistons, but now that we’ve seen him play several Summer League games, I believe he’d be a top three draft pick most years.
Wings with excellent size, long wingspans, and exceptional skills, as Ausar and Amen have, are almost always drafted in the top five, and their success, Ausar winning MVP and finals MVP and the twins leading their Overtime Elite team to a championship, didn’t diminish their value.
Most teams draft for potential. They can find a serviceable role player in free agency, but potential can best be found in the draft. Teams overvalue talent, and the possibility that a player may become dominant can entice teams to draft players higher than they should.
Let’s compare 2023, one of the most lauded draft classes in history, to the previous five drafts and pose the question: in each of these years, when would the Thompson twins have been selected? Did the Detroit Pistons get a steal with Ausar Thompson?
Detroit Pistons: Amen and Ausar Thompson in the 2022 Draft
In the 2022 draft, the Thompson twins might’ve fallen in the same general area—somewhere after the first three picks, in the mix with Keegan Muray, Jaden Ivey, and Benedict Mathurin, all players who fit the NBA mold, have strong upside, decent skills, and need to round out their game.
An oversized wing like Paolo Banchero, a highly skilled center like Chet Holmgren, and a physical talent like Jabari Smith Jr. tantalize with their potential, which makes them more valuable as draft prospects. I hope all three become All-Stars. The game would be better for it. Unfortunately, statistics suggest that in eight years, more likely than not, one of Banchero, Holmgren, or Smith Jr. will develop into an All-Star, one won’t be in the league, and the third will be a role player.
The Thompson twins are safer prospects but don’t offer the hope of extreme dominance. In 2022, they would’ve fallen in the four-eight range.