Prospect Stock Watch Vol. 2: Marcus Sasser’s emergence

Detroit Bad Boys

When we last spoke, the Detroit Pistons were 2-1 through three games, and Sasser was a few seconds short of logging 24 total minutes. In the five games since then, he’s averaging 24.8 minutes per game, and while the team is 0-5 over that stretch, Sasser has looked like one of the Pistons’ best players overall.

In those 24.8 minutes, Sasser is tallying 12.4 points (54.5% on 4.4 3PA), 3.8 assists (0.4 turnovers), and 1.6 steals per game. Those three-point numbers are astonishing, especially when you consider the outlier 1-for-5 game it included most recently.

Looking a little closer, his three-point numbers on the season (51.9% on 3.4 3PA) become even more impressive when we see that over 40% of his attempts have been of the toughest variety, pull-ups, where he’s shooting an elite 45.5%.

Full disclosure, I was wrong about where Sasser’s minutes would come from. I thought it might be because of Ausar Thompson and Killian Hayes not offering much offensively, and they still are struggling to hit shots at a good rate (except for the wonderful game Hayes had vs. the Golden State Warriors), but both have still started every game for the Pistons so far.

Maybe the writing was on the wall, but the one who seems to have completely lost their spot in the rotation for now is Jaden Ivey. It makes sense why guys like Sasser, Thompson, and Hayes are all continuing to get minutes while Ivey’s are going down when you consider the approach Monty Williams is taking:

Ivey missed both games of the Sunday-Monday back-to-back listed with an illness, but with Sasser playing as well as he is, Hayes coming off one of the best games of his career, and Thompson continuing to do everything (except make three-pointers), it’s fair to question where Ivey’s minutes are going to come from when he’s healthy again, especially as guys who started the season with longer-term injuries start to get back as well.

As for the main subjects of last week’s column, Cade Cunningham and Jalen Duren, the two have cooled off a bit but remain vital to what the Pistons do on a possession-to-possession basis.

I don’t really have any complaints about Cunningham that wouldn’t be solved by a better supporting cast; things like cutting down on the turnovers, shooting more efficiently from the three-point line. But for a guy with just over one full season of experience leading a team with a usage of nearly 33%, his production and his consistency have been incredible.

Duren continues to be second on the team in scoring (among Pistons who have played at least five games) and first in rebounding (11.5, ahead of second-place Thompson with 9.0), which is almost as impressive, given his youth. Duren turns 20 years old in 11 days.

And just from the eye test, Detroit can pretty much say the days of them being an “easy win” are over.

  • Kevin Durant needed to score 41 points for the Phoenix Suns to scrape by with a win
  • The Warriors needed 36 points from Steph Curry (including 16 in the first quarter) to pull away late in the fourth

I almost don’t even care about the 2-6 record. Given so many young players looking like they’re ahead of schedule with veteran returns on the distant horizon, it should be optimism season in Detroit.

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