NBA Rookie of the Year ladder: Big rise from Brandon Miller in Week 4

With a bigger opportunity than most, it's time to start paying attention to Brandon Miller in the Rookie of the Year race.

Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets
Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets / Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
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Ausar Thompson. 64. player. 3. Wing. Ausar Thompson. . 3. . Pistons

Here's a hot take. Cade Cunningham is going to be good. The efficiency concerns are valid, but he's situated in the worst possible setting with Detroit, a team stubbornly committed to rostering the minimum amount of shooting required to sustain an NBA offense. And, he's another hot take — Ausar Thompson is the Pistons' best young prospect.

A mega-athlete on the wing, Thompson has immediately earned starting duties in the Pistons' wonky outfit. He doesn't help on the shooting front, but Thompson has been prolific in just about every other category. He's one of the top rookie scorers (11.1 points), board-crashers (9.8 rebounds), and passers (3.2 assists) in 30.4 minutes per game. He also dominates dirty-work categories; he's leading the NBA with 25 loose balls recovered, for example. He's averaging 1.1 steals and 1.8 blocks, flying in from the weak side to blow up shot attempts and phasing into passing lanes to kickstart transition offense.

He has legitimate All-Defense upside, maybe as a rookie. That's absurd for a 20-year-old wing who spent last season facing high school-level competition in the Overtime Elite league. The shooting splits are ugly (.450/.138/.698) but Thompson is a walking paint touch and he's getting better as a finisher. Lost in the shadows cast by Cunningham and Hayes is the fact that Thompson is a legitimately advanced ball-handler with exceptional passing vision. He collapses the defense regularly despite posing no threat from 3-point range and he's great at leveraging his gravity as a driver to create for teammates.

The Pistons have a lot to figure out on the personnel front, but Thompson was the absolute right pick at No. 5 and he's going to be a foundational piece of the Pistons for years to come.