Detroit Pistons: Selection of Ausar Thompson Changed Free Agency Strategy


After a successful summer league for Ausar Thompson, the Detroit Pistons have to feel more comfortable with how free agency has gone.

Thompson averaged 13.5 points, ten rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.8 blocks per game. He stuffed the stat sheet with increase in efficiency each game thanks to a ‘no plays off’ type mentality.

Many observers wondered why Troy Weaver didn’t make a free agency push for Brooklyn Net’s Cam Johnson, as seemingly a perfect fit to the young core.

It’s a question Weaver answered shortly after the rookie introductory press conference with a smaller media huddle. With the draft now behind, a lot of the questions centered around the impending start of the NBA’s free agency.

Never short on descriptive analogies, Weaver used several to describe what the approach would be.

“Before we starting putting windows in the house we want to make sure there’s a foundation,” Weaver said.

And just to make it even more clear, he later stated ”how we feel the rest out in free agency is not pressing right now.”

Ausar Thompson Is The Home Run

During the post-draft press conference, Troy Weaver eluded to Ausar Thompson being the “big swing” or “long ball” he referenced before the draft.

That lead me to believe though there were some pieces who could help the Pistons, they might pass due to the position Thompson played. The big fish at the position of need were wing players Jerami Grant and the fore mentioned Cam Johnson. Each received pretty big pay days to return to their respective teams, for more than the initially rumored amounts.

It makes me wonder if a team like the Pistons might’ve helped run their price tag up just a little, but it’d be inconsistent with what Weaver has said.

“We’re going to be careful before we bring in guys that can deter us from really finding out who these guys are.”

This puts a lot of pressure on Weaver’s player assessment to be spot on. And not in just a —cool this player kind of panned out way, but that this team gets to winning soon led by the players he has selected.

I sense apprehension when speaking to Pistons fans due to the long history of bad luck surrounding draft picks here. But Weaver sounds very confident about the talent he’s assembled, both believing in and betting big on them.

“To some degree we added two young men who change the dynamics a little. We don’t want to interfere with who these young guys can become and who they are.”

Thompson has some work to put in with the three point shooting, but he has passed the early tests in backing up Weaver’s belief.

”We’re going to stick to our plan and we feel good about where this thing is going.”

Monty Williams and the Young Core

Troy Weaver has been transparent about seeing what this team can be when healthy, on the court and under the guidance of Monty Williams. Especially with the Additions of Ausar Thompson and Marcus Sasser who fit the “restore” mold.

“Drafting those two young guys is consistent with what we’re trying to do,” Weaver said. But even more importantly he stated “I really want to see coach, coach this team and get a feel for our guys.”

Weaver believes in the locker room saying “he’d put it up against any other in the league.” But in order for the Pistons to improve they must know what they have first.

Star Cade Cunningham only played twelve games after undergoing season ending surgery. Marvin Bagley began the season injured, while starters Isaiah Stewart and Bojan Bogdanovic sat the bulk of the second half out hurt.

This wasn’t a recipe for success by any measure and pushed the Pistons to a point they didn’t know the team they had. This left them with few attainable objectives which included proper player development for Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren at the least.

The Phoenix Suns saw a drastic improvement when they added Monty Williams and the Pistons are hopeful for the same. Though he should bring new wrinkles to the offense, it’s the defensive side of the ball Weaver hopes to see Williams change things.

”Everybody talks about Steph and Klay being generational shooters,” Weaver said. “Golden State turned it when they became a top ten defense.”

When viewing through this lens it makes it more clear why he went with the defensive potential of Ausar Thompson over the offensive fit of Cam Johnson.

Now, he must continue to prove it.

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