‘Boy, this kid is good’: Joe Dumars lauds Ausar Thompson in Pistons’ win over Raptors

Detroit News

Ausar Thompson used his lengthy frame to steal a pass from Grady Dick before executing his most explosive play of the Las Vegas Summer League.

The Pistons’ fifth overall pick led a fastbreak and passed to his fellow rookie teammate Marcus Sasser, who tipped the ball back to Thompson for a reverse alley-oop. Later in the first quarter, Thompson used his speed and drove past his defender for a two-handed dunk, prompting some praise from a Pistons legend.

“Boy, this kid is good,” said Joe Dumars, the NBA’s executive vice president and head of basketball operations, during an in-game interview with ESPN.

It’s a worthy compliment from one of the greatest players to ever wear a Pistons uniform, who also transitioned to a talent evaluator during his time as franchise’s general manager in the early 2000’s.

Thompson received more responsibility in the Pistons’ 92-90 win over the Toronto Raptors since Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and James Wiseman were held out of Wednesday’s game.

With the additional opportunities to showcase his two-way talents, Thompson shined on both ends of the floor with 17 points, nine rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Thompson’s feel for the game was apparent through the contest as he made precise reads of determining when to score and when to get his teammates involved. Defensively, he contested shots and deflected passes often. His playmaking could’ve earned him a double-double, but some of his on-target passes weren’t converted by his teammates.

“When I’m not able to score, I want to be able to do all the other things. I want to stay on the court,” Thompson said in a post-game interview. “Although I’m very confident in my offensive game, these games when it hasn’t been shown, I have to do something else.”

That mindset will pay off for Thompson if he continues to show the versatility he’s displayed in the Pistons’ first three Summer League games.

Thompson and the Pistons will play again on Friday night against the San Antonio Spurs, but No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama will not be available since he’s been shut down for the remainder of his time in Las Vegas.

Here are a couple of other observations from Wednesday’s win over the Raptors:

Sasser’s playmaking: Marcus Sasser rebounded from an underwhelming game against the Rockets with an impressive display of playmaking and defensive intensity on Wednesday. He struggled to shoot after making just 5-of-15 from the field, but he made sure his teammates were involved with his seven assists. Sasser’s clutch gene kicked in during the waning moments of the game as he drained a floater to give Detroit a two-point lead with just over a minute left. Sasser’s best play of the game was a steal on Dick before laying the ball in to give Detroit a 91-90 lead, which eventually led to the Pistons’ second summer league victory. Sasser’s ability to lock in on the small details like defending during a tough offensive night will likely earn brownie points from his coaches and props from his teammates.

Rhoden’s solid play: The Pistons didn’t have Ivey, Duren or Wiseman, but there was one player on the floor who spent last season with the team’s main roster. Jared Rhoden, the Pistons’ two-way guard, stepped up and played an integral role in Detroit’s near-comeback on Wednesday. He finished with 13 points and five rebounds, which included two three-pointers, one of which was assisted by Thompson. The 6-foot-6 guard used his athleticism to get to the rim and made most of his 3s. Rhoden received an increased role during the final month of the regular season, along with former Pistons two-way guard Buddy Boeheim. With a new two-way contract in place, Rhoden is going into his second season with the team with more experience and a feel for what’s required in order to earn minutes. If any of Detroit’s two-guards suffer injuries, Rhoden’s name will surely be called, especially if he can perform with the poise he displayed on Wednesday.

mcurtis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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