Were the Detroit Pistons' rookies snubbed by their own coach?

2023 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
2023 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

The Detroit Pistons will be represented by two of their own, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren during All-Star weekend. Both players will be competing in their second Rising Stars event, having played for the rookies team last year.

The format is slated to be the same, a tournament style with rookies, sophomores, and G-League players competing. Notably absent, however, were Detroit’s two rookies. Neither Ausar Thompson nor Marcus Sasser will be involved, but were they snubbed? Let’s take a look at the other rookies who made the cut, and how they compare to Detroit’s newcomers.

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2024 Panini Rising Stars rookies

  • G Bilal Coulibaly (Washington Wizards)
  • G Keyonte George (Utah Jazz)
  • G Jordan Hawkins (New Orleans Pelicans)
  • G Scoot Henderson (Portland Trail Blazers)
  • F Chet Holmgren (Oklahoma City Thunder)
  • F Jaime Jaquez. Jr. (Miami Heat)
  • C Dereck Lively II (Dallas Mavericks)
  • F Brandon Miller (Charlotte Hornets)
  • G Brandin Podziemski (Golden State Warriors)
  • G Cason Wallace (Oklahoma City Thunder)
  • F Victor Wembanyama (San Antonio Spurs)

Ausar Thompson vs. the other wings

As a baseline, Ausar is averaging 8.3 points, 1.9 assists, 6.6 rebounds, with 14 percent from three. Just focusing on the wings who would have beaten out Ausar for a roster spot, Bilal Coulibaly, Jordan Hawkins,  Brandin Podziemski and Jaime Jaquez all were selected before the Detroit rookies.

Jaquez has been a vital piece for a disappointing Heat team this season. Even after sitting out the last five games with an injury, Jaquez is averaging almost 15 points per game to go along with four rebounds and three assists. It’s safe to say Hawkins is worthy of a spot, averaging 11 points per night while shooting almost 40 percent from three, and Podziemski has been a great piece off the bench for the Warriors. 

It’s Coulibaly where Thompson might have a gripe. Bilal is averaging 8.2 points, 1.8 assists, and four rebounds. All of which are less than Ausar. He's also on a Wizards team that is barely ahead of the Detroit Pistons in the standings. The only category where Bilal bests Ausar is in minutes per game, just two more per night, and in three point percentage. Ausar is obviously one of the weakest three point shooters in the league, and Coulibaly is connecting on 39 percent of his 2.6 three point attempts. Still, Ausar has the edge in almost every other category, and plays on a much more restricted team with very little spacing. 

Marcus Sasser vs. the other guards

To date, Marcus Sasser is putting up 7.2 points, 1.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 40 percent from deep in a much more limited, inconsistent role. The guards who got the nod over Sasser are Scoot Henderson, Keyonte George, and Cason Wallace; all of whom were drafted well before Sasser.

The highest of which, Scoot, is averaging 12 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists but is shooting just 30 percent from deep and has three turnovers per game. George is essentially on the same plane, averaging 11, 2.7, 4.2 and two turnovers per night. Both players benefit from not only a height advantage over Sasser, but also get much more well-rounded playing time than Detroit’s rookie. It should be noted that both Scoot and Keyonte are on a recent, inconsistent skid, which likely should have played in Sasser’s favor.

Cason Wallace’s numbers more closely resemble Sasser's, with most actually being worse. Wallace is averaging 6.7, 2.3, and 1.4 but is shooting 43 percent from deep, slightly out-edging Sasser from three. Wallace, however, plays for an Oklahoma City Thunder team that puts far less expectation on their rookie, allowing him to play off others and let the game come to him. Sasser, most of the time, has to create his own shot if he is to get one off. And he still is averaging more in most categories than his OKC counterpart.

In the end, it’s clear that Ausar Thompson and Marcus Sasser have not done enough to warrant a spot in the Rising Stars game due to limited opportunities on a bad team. Ausar plays a balanced game that doesn’t always allow for stats to jump off the page, and Sasser’s minutes have been inconsistent and limited. Both make it difficult to stand out among their fellow rookies. For what it’s worth, both Ausar and Marcus have higher win shares (an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player) than Bilal Coulibaly, Keyonte George, and Scoot Henderson. All while playing on one of the worst teams in NBA history. 

Had they been given consistent minutes, both players could be there, so Monty Williams has done as much as anyone to keep them off the Rising Stars rookie team.