The NBA is the most competitive basketball league in the world, and rookies coming out of college or who have played overseas generally experience a steep learning curve playing against grown men, veterans of the pace and physicality of an NBA season.
Ausar Thompson, coming from Overtime Elite, has experienced a trial by fire, and he’s adjusting well to the physical demands placed on stout defenders in the NBA.
There’s a reason some players, offensive specialists in particular, often don’t play hard-nosed defense. They contribute in other ways, and the wear and tear on the body, not to mention the exhaustion that comes with defending at a high level can be costly.
Ausar Thompson has adjusted to the physicality and punishment of the NBA
Thompson took claws to the face from Chet Holmgren while driving to the rim. That scratch left him with a bandage below his eye.
Defending SGA with three minutes to go in the fourth, when the Pistons were down by seventeen, Thompson took an elbow to the face. He was called for a foul, though in my opinion the call could’ve gone either way.
His face was already bleeding, and his team would’ve had a hard time winning had everything gone right. Still, he’s putting pressure on the offense and willing to put his body on the line. He stayed in SGA’s chest and forced the point guard to push and bump to try to get by.
Thompson didn’t back down the next night against New Orleans or against Phoenix. He defends at a high level whether it costs him a cut, a headache, or a few bruises.
That physicality transfers to the offensive end as well. Watching Thompson’s physical style of play, it’s easy to see his body control and strength. He can hang in the air around the rim and take contact while finishing the play.
Playing some of the most physical basketball in the world, Thompson bangs with the bigs. Despite his age and being only a few games into his rookie season, he looks like he belongs. Detroit got a steal in the draft with Ausar Thompson, and his game should only improve with time.