The picks are in. Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weaver turned in his fourth draft at the helm with another solid class for his young squad. After no clear frontrunner stood out as a favorite to land with the Pistons at pick No. 5, speculation grew that the team could look to trade back. Weaver did pull off a draft day trade, but it did not involve the fifth overall pick.
With the fifth pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons selected Overtime Elite wing Ausar Thompson. The 20-year-old emerged as the expected pick late in the draft process. Thompson was selected one pick after his brother, Amen, who went to the Houston Rockets.
Weaver pulled the trigger on a trade late in the first round, sending pick No. 31 and two future second-round picks to the Boston Celtics in exchange for the 25th overall pick. With pick No. 25, Detroit landed Houston guard Marcus Sasser.
With the selections of Thompson and Sasser, the Pistons addressed a need for wing depth, athletic talent and defensive impact.
It is way to early to judge these picks, but grading picks is an unavoidable part of the post-draft process. Here are my grades for the Detroit Pistons’ 2023 draft class.
Ausar Thompson provides instant defensive impact and athletic upside
After early speculation for who Detroit would select with the fifth pick surrounded Cam Whitmore and Jarace Walker, Thompson may have been a surprise pick for those who did not follow the draft talk in the few days prior to draft night.
The 6-foot-7 wing will provide an instant defensive impact for the Pistons. He uses his length to shroud ball handlers and contest shots. Thompson moves well in space and has good instincts. He anticipates his opponents’ moves and often gets there before they do. He closes out well, gets vertical on block attempts and rotates well.
Thompson proved himself to be a solid off-ball player with Overtime Elite. He is an instinctual cutter and tertiary playmaker. Thompson reads the court well and makes the extra pass with consistency. He finds outlet passes when his drives are cut off as well. His springy athleticism make him a lob threat off cuts and in transition.
Shooting is a major area of improvement that will separate Thompson from being a solid NBA player to a potential All-Star. His mechanics are not great, especially his footwork. However, he showed improvement throughout his time with Overtime Elite. While he was a 30 percent three-point shooter as a whole, he improved to 38.5 percent during the playoffs.
It is hard to knock this pick very much. Weaver stated he is the type to take a swing for the fences. Walker may have been a safe pick for fifth overall, but looking for upside, there is not anyone else on the board who has the skillset and upside Thompson possesses.
Marcus Sasser will be a good backup guard for the Detroit Pistons
Defense. Check. Shooting. Check. Athleticism and length? Check. The Pistons gave up little to move up to 25th overall for Sasser, and in return they got a guy who fills needs this team lacked.
Sasser shot 38.4 percent from beyond the arc in 2022-23. He averaged 16.8 points, 3.1 assists and 1.6 steals during his final season with Houston.
Sasser’s arrival could signal the inevitable departure of Killian Hayes. Hayes is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and he has never lived up to the billing of the seventh overall pick. Sasser projects to provide a defensive impact that could fill somewhat what Hayes provided. He is already an upgrade as a shooter to Hayes as well.
Sasser will provide cheap backup point guard play for Detroit. It is hard to say much bad about this pick.
For more from the author, Thomas Chavez, check him out on Twitter here: @tlchavez43
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