There has been plenty to complain about when it comes to the Detroit Pistons' starting lineups this season.
From the injuries that have plagued this team, to the questionable starting rotations that Monty Williams has gone with, everyone has a differing opinion on who deserves to be starting in the Motor City.
Jaden Ivey has been at the center of a majority of the lineup discussions, and for good reason. But there is another Piston whose numbers tell a tale about his time in the starting lineup vs. coming off the bench.
Ausar Thompson as a starter for the Detroit Pistons
Whether you were surprised that Ausar Thompson got the start at the beginning of the year or not, he immediately provided an impact. He was as versatile as advertised, and did a little bit of everything for Detroit.
Over his first 18 games, Thompson was in the starting lineup, and averaged 11.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.6 blocks on 29 minutes per game. Night in and night out, Ausar was putting up historical performances after stuffing the stat book. In his 24 total games in the starting lineup, Ausar is getting more shots off, and even hitting from three at a 25 percenet clip. That is nothing to cheer about, but compared to his off the bench numbers, that makes him feel like vintage Klay Thompson.
Ausar Thompson was thriving in a starting role, and it seemed like he may have been one of the biggest steals of the draft. But Monty Williams decided to make a change as others on the roster got healthy.
Ausar Thompson coming off the bench for the Pistons
The story of Ausar coming off the bench is a very different one. Whether it's because of the supporting cast around him, or Thompson just feeling as though he must play a different role with the second line, his numbers are drastically different, in a bad way.
After his 18 games starting to begin the season, Ausar began coming off the bench sporadically over the next 16. In 10 games as a reserve, Thompson is averaging just 4.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.5 stocks (steals and blocks) and is shooting an abysmal eight percent from deep. While his three-point shooting was never lighting the world on fire, his all around play when starting picked up the slack. That, too, fell off when he was put on the second unit, and his minutes were effectively cut in half from 28.8 to just 16.03 per night.
It's almost like when Ausar runs with the second shift, he naturally takes on more of a spot up shooting role, something he clearly is not great at. Ausar is an army-swiss knife that, when deployed correctly, is a great weapon. Off the bench, he isn't able to be that.
What to make of Ausar Thompson's numbers?
The numbers for Ausar starting vs. coming off the bench are extremely straightforward. When Ausar is inserted into the starting lineup, he is more efficient and able to play his role. When relegated to a bench position, the majority of his numbers decline dramatically. The answer of just forcing Ausar into the lineup for the best results isn’t as straightforward, however.
Even during his best stretch, Ausar is only hitting threes at 25 percent. The way this roster is constructed, a wing that is so inefficient from the perimeter does not complement the other starters, even if he is putting up record numbers in other categories.
It’s on the front office to surround Ausar with complementary players who offset the rookies’ deficiencies and be able to insert him back into the starting role to maximize his potential. Can that be done with Bojan Boganovic? Or does Detroit need to go out and get other pieces?