Detroit Pistons Summer League Game 1 Observations


The Detroit Pistons kicked off the NBA 2K Summer League Saturday winning 89-78 over the Orlando Magic.

It was the first time fans saw newly drafted first rounders, Ausar Thompson and Marcus Sasser, playing in Detroit Pistons uniforms. It was a matchup of two top-six picks from the NBA Draft in Thompson and the Magic’s Anthony Black who finished with seventeen points, five rebounds and five assists.

But it’s the Pistons’ rookies in the focus, for more than one reason. After what some observers would deem an underwhelming start to free agency, the attention is centered on internal growth of the young core.

Though stats don’t jump off the sheet for the game, it does tell a story that the eye test confirms. These rookies will contribute in year one and they showed how against the Magic.

Ausar Thompson

Ausar Thompson displayed a versatile all-around game scoring seven points, nine rebounds and three assists. Defensively Thompson showed his potential with one steal and three blocks while being disruptive all over the court. His two-way potential was in full presentation mode as he routinely helped the Pistons turn defense to offense. These were the tools Troy Weaver remarked about when comparing Thompson to former finals MVP Andre Iguodala. I’d go as far as to say his ability to connect with teammates on offense reminds me of Cade Cunningham. It’s summer league so temper all results, but it’s difficult to contain the idea of how good Ausar can be.

Marcus Sasser

Since before the Detroit Pistons selected him until now, Marcus Sasser has spoken about his desire to be a bad boy. He thought he fit the persona of hard nosed, gritty play without sacrificing offensive skill. If game one of summer league is any indication, Sasser is off to a good start. He plays with a presence that just reeks of “I’m him”, without putting off a persona bigger than his teammates or moment. Sasser scored ten points, hitting two three pointers, while grabbing three rebounds and dishing two assists. His hope is to compliment the ball handlers by being an efficient shooting off-guard, taking no plays off on defense.

Pistons Summer League Big 3

Last seasons’ pair of draftees Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, James Wiseman joined the rookies for game 1 and didn’t disappoint. Killian Hayes and Isaiah Stewart which are entering year four, and the still recovering Cade Cunningham were the notable roster omissions.

The Trio of Duren (17 PTS), Wiseman (16 PTS) and Ivey (14 PTS) led the Pistons in scoring and combined for 25 rebounds.

Jalen Duren showed new wrinkles to his offensive game scoring in the midrange off the dribble open several occasions. It would’ve been nice to see him get a block, but the opposing team deterred drives toward him.

Jaden Ivey also stuffed the stat sheet with five rebounds, four assists, and five steals, showing the same high energy octane of a season ago. Some observers were hoping he was more in playmaking mode, but it seemed his directive was to be… direct.

James Wiseman was player of the game of the trio showing impressive skill on both ends of the court. He was the only player in the game for either team to finish with a double-double, pulling down twelve boards. Wiseman also had two impressive blocks showing improved court awareness, which is a trend that needs to continue into training camp.

Summer League Day 1 Notes:

  • Isaiah Livers may be absent summer league for undisclosed amount of time due to family emergency via James Edwards III of the Athletic
  • Cade Cunningham and Isaiah Stewart greeted the Pistons summer league team as they ran onto the court for warm-ups

  • NBA trainer and future Mayor of Detroit, Ashton Da Trainer, was also spotted hanging with Cunningham and Stewart sporting the SANA Detroit clothing line
  • Monty Williams and Troy Weaver were in attendance and made waves around social media when pictured with Christian Wood sitting next to them

Play of the Game

What’s Next

  • May 16 NBA Draft Lottery – RESULTS: Fell to 5th Pick in the NBA Draft
  • June 22 NBA Draft – Ausar Thompson | OverTime Elite
  • July 7-17 NBA Summer League
  • July 8 NBA Summer League: Pistons beat Magic 89-78
  • July 9 NBA Summer League: Pistons vs Houston Rockets 6 p.m. EST


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Photo Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports