Rockets showing Pistons how to use Ausar Thompson

Jan 12, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Ausar Thompson (9) battles for for the rebound with Amen Thompson
Jan 12, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Ausar Thompson (9) battles for for the rebound with Amen Thompson / David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets have won 11 games in a row and pulled within a game of the final play-in spot in the Western Conference. Let's hope the Detroit Pistons are paying attention.

Firstly, the Pistons should take note of what can happen when you try to improve your roster in the offseason. It's a wild concept, but adding players who can actually play and not, say, Joe Harris, may help your team win a few more games.

The Pistons could be where the Rockets are now if they had made the right moves, but instead, they made none.

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The Pistons could also take some advice from how the Rockets are using Amen Thompson, the twin brother of Detroit's Ausar, as he has been blowing up in the type of role Ausar should have been playing all season.

Ausar Thompson and positionless basketball for the Detroit Pistons

Amen Thompson has been on fire of late, averaging 14.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists over his last five games, all wins for the surging Rockets.

With Alperen Sengun out, the Rockets have been playing without a traditional center and have even used Amen Thompson there at times.

Amen has been used at power forward on defense and point guard on offense, taking advantage of his positional versatility to create better matchups for Houston. Most importantly, Amen has only taken four 3-point shots over the last five games, a stark contrast to how the Pistons were using his brother.

It took Monty Williams most of the season to put Ausar Thompson into pick-and-roll sets as the screener and we never saw much of Ausar as a playmaker, something he can do. We also never saw much of him in small-ball lineups where his defensive versatility and athleticism are a weapon.

We also saw Ausar taking WAY too many 3-point shots, as he launched 20 combined in his last five games played, a big difference from how Houston is using Amen, who is not just standing in the corner on offense as Ausar did for much of the season. You can see in some of these highlights how the Rockets use him as a point forward in the center of the floor, taking advantage of his playmaking. He's moving, setting screens or working off them, being used in dribble hand offs, things that we didn't see enough of from Ausar.

Neither twin shoots the ball well from long range (Amen is even worse than Ausar) yet Ausar is launching nearly twice as many on the season and was taking even more before he was shut down. While the Rockets are finding creative ways to use a unique player, the Pistons continue to force players into roles in which they do not fit, whether it is Ausar Thompson launching seven 3-point shots in a game, Isaiah Stewart playing power forward, Jaden Ivey asked to play mostly off the ball or Marcus Sasser mostly on it.

So if you have a guy who shoots 18 percent from 3-point range but does everything else well, maybe, I don't know, have him do those other things?

It's sad to watch Houston and know the Pistons could potentially be playing meaningful games right now if they had tried to improve their team in the offseason and were better at getting the most out of their young talent.