The Detroit Pistons opened up preseason with a 130-126 overtime loss to the Phoenix Suns in an entertaining game.
There were many story lines for the Pistons in this game including Cade Cunningham’s first NBA action since game twelve of last season.
But Ausar Thompson starting the game and drawing the duty of defending the Suns’ Devin Booker had Little Caesars Arena buzzing.
Thompson finished the game stuffing the stat sheet with twelve points, ten rebounds and six assists showing his all around game. A week ago he spoke about his versatility and ability to confidently play and defend all positions except center.
“I’m very versatile on offense and can play the 1-4,” Thompson staid. “I can attack, get paint touches, kick outs, and get looks at the rim. Im going to surprise some people.”
And against the Suns Ausar Thompson looked as he and his teammates advertised.
“He’s ready,” Isaiah Stewart quipped at Pistons media day. “He already knows good team basketball and I think he’s ready to play day one. A lot of wow moments.”
Defensively he was stout and held his own, though his physical style of play might’ve been too much at times as refs tagged him with four fouls.
Pistons general manager Troy Weaver acknowledged “he needs to learn the nuance of NBA defense” when they drafted Thompson.
Ausar Thompson even flashed big moment focus and ability when he hit the game tying three to send the game to overtime.
All in all it was a good debut for the rookie who looks ready to start RIGHT NOW.
Monty Williams on Ausar Thompson
Pistons head coach Monty Williams was compelled against his judgment to play Thompson a lot in his first game, something he stated he didn’t want to do. But good things continued to happen during his time on the floor, especially on defense.
Just like a coach, Williams was pleased with the rookie Thompson but still wanted a little bit more.
“I just want him to play with force all game. I was really pleased with him taking that shot down the stretch and making that three [to tie the game at the end of regulation]. He hadn’t gotten a bunch of looks, but for him to take that shot in that situation says a lot about his mental fortitude.”
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Killian Hayes looked confidently sure in his offensive game and didn’t have a second thought on defense. One point of emphasis was Hayes wasn’t backing shying away from contact and instead attacked the basket with force. Something I’m sure Monty Williams had an effect.
Hayes has been the topic of discussion since coach Williams continued to name drop him during training camp media sessions. Some observers are still waiting to see it in the regular season before jumping on the bandwagon.
Killian Hayes stats vs Phoenix Suns (10/8)
- 13 points
- 7 assist
- 1 rebound
- 5 steals
- 5/8 FG (Made last five baskets)
Marvin Bagley is locked in a battle with James Wiseman for the backup center position. He acquitted himself quite nicely with a game high twenty-five points, seven rebounds and shot 70% from the field. Bagley also made one of his two attempts from behind the arc and knocked down 80% of his free throws.
“It felt good catching that lob from Cade,” Bagley said post game. “I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve been on the court with him during a game. It was a good feeling.”
That Cade Cunningham and Marvin Bagley duo helped spark a lifeless Pistons team during Cunningham’s rookie season. They instantly found chemistry in the pick and roll, but injuries to both Bagley and Cunningham erased the progress last season.
Head coach Monty Williams was very “pleased” with how Bagley is taking advantage of the opportunity:
“It changed the game. He just came in and played with a great deal of force. Defensively, he did a much better job calling out screening actions, which helped our guards out. I was really pleased not just with his production, but for him to sit for most of the game, and then come in and have an effect says a lot about his mindset and discipline to stay locked in.”
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Photo Credit:David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports