NEW YORK — Wins haven’t come in abundance for the Pistons. Their program is still growing and learning. However, there is an identity trying to form. He hasn’t been there yet, but Detroit’s newest resident is here to help make it happen.
Elite extra Ausar Thompson, the No. 5 pick by the Pistons during Thursday’s 2023 NBA draft, checks every box Detroit is looking for in a prospect. Toughness, speed, agility, strength, defensive competitiveness and the ability to wreak havoc on the open field. It’s a piston, for those old enough to remember all that it takes.
General Manager Troy Weaver is great with people. This evaluation is different from the evaluation on the field, but it carries just as much importance, perhaps more. According to team sources, Thompson passed that test with flying colors. Detroit is trying to build a culture first on its way to building a successful program. Those two things tend to go together. Weaver and Co. felt that Thompson would reinforce that.
In Brooklyn, New York, at the Barclays Center, Thompson and his brother, Amen, made NBA history, becoming the first twins to be drafted into the top 5. Thompson came onto the scene anxious, like every prospect that surrounded him. Like his brother who sat next to him. However, Thompson had an idea of where he was going. He said he left his meetings and practices with Detroit feeling very likely he would come to the Motor City. It happened. he is here. Now, Thompson joins the Pistons’ intriguing young core group that could surprise some teams this season if development fails.
Moments after hearing his name, Thompson sat down and spoke to him the athlete on several topics.
You can read that conversation below.
I heard that when you and your brother worked in Detroit, you were there for a few days. You said on the podium that you had a good feeling Detroit would pick you. What about those conversations, that visit with Troy Weaver, not sure if Monty Williams was even there, that made you feel that way?
When I was there, Monty was there. I think it was his first day. They told me I fit in where the modern NBA was going — having multiple facilitators on the court, being able to come off screens, and play defense. This was one of the main things. I felt the chemistry while I was there. I was excited to be there. I left there surprised. I thought this would be a place I would be very happy in the end. Now look at me.
You’re obviously busy during the season the Pistons are playing. Were you able to watch it? How well do you know Kid Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and The List?
I am very familiar with Kidd’s game. This is my teammate. After graduating from high school, everyone looks up to him. Kidd was my favorite player in that draft. I said it would be the first choice. I’d say amen so. this is funy. He thought it would be Galen Green, and now he’s with him in Houston. I am familiar with all of their games. Jaden Ivey is very quick, an appreciative facilitator and very athletic. James Wiseman, Galen Doreen, Isaiah Stewart… great bodies in paint. Marvin Bagley. I know everyone. I am a big fan of basketball.
With that said, Overtime Elite is very new. A lot of people around the league talk about scouting being difficult. Furthermore, you and your brother were only slightly older than the competition you faced. What are your thoughts on the value of going to play Overtime Elite, and if you hear or read about those criticisms, do you have concerns about counting out you and your brother?
I can’t get angry. People have their own opinions. Even if what they say may not be true, I continue. I am so glad I went to OTE. If I had the chance to do it again, I would do it again. You guys will find out next year that there are a lot of players that haven’t been announced. You guys will see that. Many of them went their separate ways. They always did what they were about to do.
What do you think about your game people haven’t talked enough about? Is there anything you can show off more on the next level?
My IQ is, on edge finishing, becoming a better shooter, taking pictures, getting off screens… I think there are a lot of things that I’m pretty sure other people might not see. I trust myself. Detroit seems to believe in me. I will work every day to get better, and even if I don’t turn up like that, I will work to get there. I trust myself.
Obviously, you and your brother are very close. What do you like and dislike?
I play video games more than him. I’m not even a big video game guy. He does not play at all, like Nadir. I’ll be at Fortnite with my friends and he’ll be like, “Oh, so? Let me go on. He’ll play one game.”
What does time pass?
I play video games with my friends.
What do you know about the city of Detroit?
The city was much nicer than people told me. All my life I thought Detroit was a lot worse than when I got out there. I know I went in the summer, but it looked like a building, a beautiful city. I liked that. I love culture. It reminded me of the places I come from, in terms of culture. I’m glad to be there.
I heard you’re a huge fan of J. Cole. Favorite J. Cole song?
Rise and shine.
Can he get a bucket on you?
(Top photo by Ossar Thompson: Sarah Steer/Getty Images)
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