One of the toughest parts about being a top pick in the NBA Draft is that you are likely joining a bad team, just ask any of the Detroit Pistons' rookies from the last four drafts.
While rookies like Jaime Jaquez Jr. (18th pick) and Jordan Hawkins (14th pick) got put into ideal roles on competitive teams, players like Victor Wembanyama and Ausar Thompson landed on two of the worst in the NBA, both struggling to win a game.
The top players get thrust into larger roles that they might not be able to shoulder, and while it is good for their counting stats, most end up hitting the inevitable "rookie wall" where they have a bad stretch of games and look like the young players they are.
It doesn't help if your team isn't winning, which is what has been happening to Ausar Thompson, who has had a few bad games while his team plummets to historic depths.
NBA Rookie Rankings: Ausar Thompson drops a spot
In the latest edition of the Kia Rookie Ladder (the NBA's weekly ranking of rookies), Ausar Thompson dropped to 4th, the first time this season he has fallen out of the top three. Chet Holmgren deservedly held his spot at the top for the second straight week, with Victor Wembanyama second and Jordan Hawkins jumping up to third.
Here's what Steve Aschburner had to say about Ausar Thompson:
"As his scoring has gone up — 12 ppg for the week, including 16 vs. Washington — his work on the boards has dipped down (5.0 since the last Ladder). Losing has not stymied him, but he will have to pick up the pace now to join Charles Barkley and Gar Heard in a rather quirky club in NBA history: Only players 6-foot-6 or shorter to average 10 boards, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals. Thompson is posting 9.5 rpg, 1.7 bpg and 1.1 spg."
I don't think the Detroit Pistons have ever had a player who gets thrown into so many historical stat comparisons, as Ausar seems to always be on the verge of something when it comes to all-around stats for wings.
Thompson came off the bench the last two games and only played 29 combined minutes, but that didn't stop him from picking up five fouls in each of them.
This has been Thompson's biggest problem of late, as he's been picking up silly fouls as he tries to ramp up his defense and make a play. He's also been the victim of some bad rookie whistles, so this isn't all his fault, but foul trouble has limited him.
With Bogdanovic back, Thompson may not see the starting lineup in the immediate future, so he's going to have to play within himself and not try to do too much off the bench. If he keeps grinding on defense and grabbing rebounds he's going to get minutes, but he has to limit the fouls.
These rankings are often a reflection of what is happening with the team, as I don't think many would argue that Jordan Hawkins is better than Ausar Thompson but he's been a key part of the Pelicans' winning record while they've had several players out with injuries.
The Pistons, conversely, have lost 17 in a row, so aren't doing their rookie any favors when it comes to postseason awards. I'm sure Thompson doesn't care, as he's a competitor who wants to win, but his effectiveness off the bench is something to monitor.