The Detroit Pistons have completed their third day of training camp in preparation for their first preseason game this weekend.
So far, it’s been about what you’d expect, optimistic quotes from Troy Weaver, Monty Williams praising everyone, all the players look “terrific,” hooray for everything.
It’s the time of year when everything is rose-colored, so you can’t take too much of this stuff to heart until we see it on the court.
Fans are most interested in depth charts, lineups and which players are going to be left out of the rotation.
Monty Williams isn’t giving anything away, but he has dropped a few hints.
Is Ausar Thompson going to start?
One of big questions we’ll soon have answered is whether rookie Ausar Thompson will be in the starting lineup to begin the season. Monty Williams certainly didn’t answer that question directly, but he did at least give us a hint that Thompson is going to be a big part of the rotation:
Insert Dumb and Dumber meme, “so you’re saying there’s a chance?”
That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see Ausar in the starting five, but with the injury to Isaiah Livers, Monty Williams may decide to shuffle some things around and move either Isaiah Stewart or Bojan Bogdanovic to the bench and the backup four spot.
All of these players are going to get plenty of run, so Monty is really just confirming that and probably dangling a little carrot in front of Ausar.
The argument for Thompson starting is that he is already likely the Pistons’ best defender and they definitely don’t have a better one on the wing. Detroit was 2nd-worst in the NBA in 1st-quarter margin last season and 28th in 1st-quarter points allowed, so putting their best defensive team on the floor to start the game might prevent some of those early deficits.
My preference would be to start Ausar and Bojan and bring Beef Stew off the bench, but I suspect we’ll see Thompson come off the pine, at least initially.
The stress test
Monty Williams talked about how he had tried to ramp up the stress and pressure in practice to test the Pistons’ discipline, as they racked up a ton of fouls last season, both personal and technical, and need to play smarter.
According to Williams, certain players have stepped up as leaders during these intense practices:
It’s great to hear him mention Cade Cunningham and Jalen Duren, two guys who are intregal to this team’s future, but he also dropped in Killian Hayes, which is promising. Hayes is fighting for a spot in the rotation and the door may have opened slightly with Livers out.
I am cheering for him and hope he can turn his career around in Detroit. It’s only training camp, so of course it’s all positive, but it’s good to hear Killian’s name in this context.