Pistons news: You can blame Monty Williams for this one

Detroit Pistons v Milwaukee Bucks
Detroit Pistons v Milwaukee Bucks / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

For the first time since Troy Weaver took over as GM, the Detroit Pistons do not have a player on the NBA All-Rookie team. 

Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren all made it, and for a good chunk of the 2023-24 season, it appeared as though Ausar Thompson would join them, as he started the season hot and was putting up all-around stats the league had rarely seen. 

So, what happened? 

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Monty Williams has taken a ton of heat for the worst season in team history, some of it fair, some of it not, but when it comes to Ausar Thompson not making the All-Rookie team, you can put the blame squarely on Monty. 

Monty Williams: Benching one of your best players 

It was clear early on that despite his long-range shooting struggles, Ausar Thompson was one of the best five players on the Pistons. 

Yet he was benched in December for elusive spacing that never came and only ended up starting 38 of his 63 appearances despite being the Pistons’ best defensive player. Yes, the Pistons need spacing around Cade Cunningham, and it is true that Ausar’s 18 percent from long range wasn’t helping that matter, but the Pistons were bad everywhere, especially on defense and not having him in the starting five hurt more than it helped. 

After their league-record losing streak, the Pistons’ season was essentially over before Thanksgiving, so why wasn’t Monty giving his 2nd-best player more developmental minutes? 

To get this mythical spacing, Williams turned to Kevin Knox and Isaiah Livers, a player who was traded at the deadline again and a guy who was arguably the worst player in the NBA this season, who didn’t play a single minute for the awful Wizards after being traded there. These were the two guys Williams decided to start over Ausar Thompson. 

That’s not to mention Killian Hayes, a player no longer even in the league, who started 31 games for some reason. A lot has been made (rightfully) about Monty’s handling of Jaden Ivey, but he was just as bad if not worse with Ausar Thompson. 

The Detroit Pistons not using Ausar Thompson creatively 

Once Monty finally pulled his head out of the sand and put Ausar in the starting lineup again, he rarely did anything with him on offense other than stick him in the corner, which is exactly what you don’t want to do with an athletic playmaker who can get to the rim and finish but can’t shoot a lick. Great plan! 

Just look at how Amen Thompson (who played fewer games than his twin and still made the All-Rookie team) was used in Houston. They had him in screen action with and without the ball. Moved him all over the place on offense, using his versatility as a weapon. 

They played Amen at power forward, point guard, center and most importantly, let him make plays with the ball occasionally. 

Amen shot even worse from 3-point range than Ausar yet got more recognition because he finished the season strong, was on a team that wasn’t the worst in the league and stood out when his coach leaned into his skills, allowing him to have some monster games.

What Monty Williams did was a crime against player development, which is why I believe Ausar Thompson to be the second most important player on the Pistons. We haven’t seen half of what this guy can do, as he was hampered by a coach with the offensive creativity of a bucket of wet hair. 

Ausar’s season eventually ended abruptly because of blood clots, but there is no way he should have not made the All-Rookie team, and if you want someone to blame other than bad luck, his name is Monty Williams.