The Detroit Pistons have not given their beleaguered fans much to cheer about this season.
They’re in an extended losing streak of 11 games and counting, have the worst record in the NBA, and last night got so ugly that their franchise cornerstone Cade Cunningham declared, “we’re bad,” after the game in an honest and accurate assessment.
The only real bright spots of the season have been the two rookies, Ausar Thompson and Marcus Sasser, who have been steadily good even though the roster and season have been chaotic.
Thompson is averaging 11.6 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists while adding 1.6 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. He is 5th in scoring among rookies, 1st in rebounds, 3rd in assists, 3rd in blocks, 1st in steals and 3rd in overall efficiency. In a lot of seasons, numbers like this would make him the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, as he is putting up all-around numbers that few rookies in the league ever have.
Marcus Sasser has been a steady scorer off the bench and doesn’t play like a rookie. He’s averaging nine points, 2.9 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game while shooting 48 percent from the floor overall and 39 percent from 3-point range. He’s 6th among rookies in points per game and 5th in assists, and considering he’s a rookie, he’s actually been a steadying presence off the bench at times, as he can get his own shot and doesn’t turn the ball over much.
The Pistons have been terrible as a team, but their rookies are still getting national attention.
NBA Rookie power rankings: Pistons get national love despite record
In a recent article for ESPN (SUBSCRIPTION), insiders Bobby Marks and Kevin Pelton ranked their top-10 rookies for the season. Here is the complete list:
1. Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder
2. Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs
3. Ausar Thompson, Detroit Pistons
4. Marcus Sasser, Detroit Pistons
5. Dereck Lively II, Dallas Mavericks
6. Cason Wallace, Oklahoma City Thunder
7. Jamie Jaquez Jr., Miami Heat
8. Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets
9. Jordan Hawkins, New Orleans Pelicans
10. Brandin Podziemski, Golden State Warriors
Both writers had Ausar Thompson and Marcus Sasser as #3 and 4 on their list, which is impressive considering the Pistons have only won two games and no one is watching them.
It’s unlikely either of them will climb higher, but it’s impressive to have two guys in the top five even at this early point in the season. Detroit could once again end with multiple players on the All-Rookie team, which would be their 4th-straight year with at least one player garnering that honor.
Troy Weaver has been great at finding talent in the draft, but not so great at building the team around them or developing these players past the “potential” stage. All-Rookie teams don’t ultimately matter and get forgotten quickly, so it’s time for some of this potential to turn into results in the win column.