Detroit — The newest members of the Pistons were welcomed to Detroit for a introductory press conference on Friday afternoon.
Ausar Thompson, the fifth pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, and Marcus Sasser, the 25th pick, sat side-by-side at the Pistons’ Midtown practice facility less than 24 hours after hearing their name called by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
Joined by Pistons general manager Troy Weaver and new head coach Monty Williams, the team’s first-round picks discussed their visions for their NBA careers, their strengths and weaknesses on the court, and how they envision fitting into the team’s young nucleus. Weaver and Williams also spoke briefly about what made Thompson and Sasser stand out from the rest of the 56 prospects who were drafted on Thursday night.
Thompson, a 6-foot-7 forward, possesses elite athleticism and is an impactful defender with upside as a dynamic playmaker. He mentioned his pre-draft workout as the time when he could see a future in Detroit, especially as the team looks to revitalize its winning ways.
“I just felt like there was a lot of chemistry and it was a place I can grow,” Thompson said. “I felt like (the team) was trending upward so I was extremely happy to hear my name called.”
Sasser, a 6-2 guard from Dallas, Texas, was acquired in a draft night trade with the Boston Celtics in exchange for the Pistons’ No. 31 pick and two future second-rounders. Weaver said Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem led the charge in chasing Sasser, a combo scoring guard who also excels on the defensive end.
“He’s a stabilizing player and personality,” Weaver said. “He’s a rock and when you’re building what we’re building, you need some rocks. You can talk about the shooting and defense, but he’s a rock. Steady, brings it every game. You never have to worry where he’s going to be or what he’s going to do. He’s rock solid.”
The Pistons are led by former No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham, Isaiah Stewart and last year’s lottery picks, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren. Sasser said he would thrive working with several ball handlers, including Thompson.
Asked to identify strengths and weaknesses, Thompson said his defense, ability to facilitate and drive-and-kick are the best parts of his game.
“I have a lot I need to work on,” Thompson said. “I have a lot to learn. Always being engaged. I have to work on shooting even though I feel a lot more confident than I was before.”
Sasser, a four-year player, says he’s a two-way player with an emphasis on the defensive end. He said he’s striving to become a better rebounder.
“It’s always good to have a guard that rebounds,” Sasser said.
Las Vegas schedule released
The NBA released its schedule for the 2023 Las Vegas Summer League on Friday afternoon and the Pistons will have a four-game slate against a similar crop of teams with emerging young stars. Perhaps the most intriguing game on the schedule a marquee matchup on July 8 against the Houston Rockets, who selected Thompson’s identical twin brother, Amen, with the fourth pick on Thursday.
The Thompson brothers forewent their senior seasons of high school and enrolled in the Overtime Elite professional basketball league, where they spent the last two seasons preparing for the NBA. They made history on Thursday as they became the first two players from the league to become drafted and the highest-picked brothers in draft history.
Thompson twins to face off
Ausar Thompson was accompanied by his family, including Amen (his press conference is slated for Tuesday afternoon in Houston). Asked his reaction to the news that he would face his brother for the first time at the professional level, Ausar Thompson smirked and relished the challenge against his twin.
“When I heard it, my first thought was ‘We’re gonna kill him,’ Thompson said with his brother in attendance. “He’s sitting right here, so he can hear it himself. Take no prisoner. I know he probably wants to do the same thing to me, but it’s not gonna go that way.”
Midway through Thompson’s response, Williams chuckled and said, “I love that.”
First Tigers game
Now that Ausar Thompson and Sasser are officially members of the Pistons, they’ll get acclimated to the community by attending their first Tigers game, along with meeting their new teammates before they embark on their first season in the NBA.
Just as he has in the past, Weaver not only prioritizes a player’s basketball skillset, but he also wants prospects who fit the team based on their character. And the best way to evaluate character is through the draft process, he says.
“In drafting, unlike trading and free agency, you get to show who you are,” Weaver said, “and these two men represent what we want to be about in Detroit.”