Detroit Pistons: Ausar Thompson joins elite group of rookie royalty

Phoenix Suns guard Eric Gordon (23) is defended by Detroit Pistons forward Ausar Thompson (9) Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns guard Eric Gordon (23) is defended by Detroit Pistons forward Ausar Thompson (9) Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons have lost four in a row and have started the season 2-5, though there have been some bright spots among all of the losing.

Perhaps the biggest has been rookie Ausar Thompson, who has done a little of everything for the Pistons even though he has shot the ball poorly to start the season.

Thompson is hitting just 37.8 percent from the field and a mere 16 percent from long range but that hasn’t stopped him from making a big impact and putting himself in the early running for Rookie of the Year, though Victor Wembanyama may have already wrapped that up.

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Thompson may not be able to shoot yet, but he does pretty much everything else well, and put up some numbers last night that few rookies in the history of the NBA have ever accomplished.

Ausar Thompson doing some historic stat stuffing for the Detroit Pistons

Thompson is averaging 11.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, four assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.1 steals per game for the Detroit Pistons this season. He is 4th in ppg, 1st in rebounds, 2nd in assists, 2nd in blocks and tied for 1st in steals among all rookies so far.

In last night’s loss to the Suns, Ausar Thompson did something that only two rookies in the history of the NBA have done:

That is pretty good company to be in, as Ralph Sampson was an All-Star and won Rookie of the Year in his first season and Kevin Garnett (who was a 12-time All-Defensive player and won Defensive Player of the Year) came out of high school blocking shots and nabbing steals.

Ausar is averaging more blocks than Kevin Garnett did as a rookie and is just behind Ralph Sampson, who was three years older than Thompson as a rookie and is widely considered to be one of the best rookie defenders of all time.

It’s even more impressive when you consider that Thompson is a 6-foot-7 wing, while Garnett was a 6-foot-11 power forward and Sampson a massive 7-foot-4 center.

The Detroit Pistons haven’t been winning much, but Thompson is making his case to make the All-Defensive team as a rookie. His 2.1 blocks per game are currently 8th in the NBA overall and every player above him on the list is a center.

The Pistons’ defense still needs a ton of work, but they have gone up 10 spots in defensive efficiency since last season and a big part of that is the work Thompson is doing, not only locking people down but grabbing defensive rebounds.

I would have bet against Thompson being ahead of Victor Wembanyama in rebounds and blocks at any point in the season, and he may not by the end of it, but he is right now, and playing like an elite defensive center in the body of a wing.

Thompson may stuff statsheets in a way we’ve never seen this season, and I wouldn’t bet against him having a 5×5 game where he has at least five points, rebounds, assists steals and blocks, which has only been done a few times in NBA history.

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