The 2023 NBA Draft, set to take place on 23 June, has been dubbed the ‘Victor Wembanyama Draft’. All eyes are on Victor Wembanyama, who is arguably the best talent in NBA history.
However, there are a few prospects that get overshadowed by him. Unless you’re a fan of the San Antonio Spurs, who have the No. 1 pick, it might be wise to focus on the prospects below them.
There are a lot of attractive prospects in this draft. The draft depth is also considered to be excellent.
In this second part of the Scouting Report, we’ll be analysing Amen Thompson, who is primarily a point guard, but is also a versatile player who can play both point guard and small forward depending on the team’s needs. His athleticism has been praised. He is expected to be drafted between the third and eighth picks.
Amen Thompson’s “Wow Athleticism” Profile
Name: Amen Thompson/ Date of birth: 30 January 2003/ Physique: 201cm 98kg/ Positions: PG, SG, SF
Graduated from Pinecrest High School/ Played for Overtime Elite
Credits: Overtime Elite Championship (2022-2023), All-OTE First Team (2023)
Stats: 16.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.3 steals, 0.9 blocks in 16 games, averaging 27.3 minutes per game/ 56.6 per cent field goal shooting/ 25 per cent three-point shooting/ 65.6 per cent free throw shooting
‘A 201cm Zamorant from the amateur league’? A player whose ability to ‘rip through’ opposing defences fits the description all too well.
ESPN called him “the most athletic player in this draft”. I’m talking about his first step, his vertical jump. His explosiveness is incredible. He makes it look so easy to get to the basket with his athleticism.
He can play the one through the three. At 201cm, he’s supposed to be a wing player, but his passing is so good that he’s spent more time at the number one position. Dished out 5.9 assists per game (with half the outlets classifying him as a point guard and half as a wing player).
His defensive presence is huge. His 6-foot-5 wingspan and athleticism allow him to be active on the defensive end. 2.3 steals per game.
OvertimeJah Morant (Memphis) in the Elite League. He rips through defences and gets in and out of the paint like a playground. Once he was under the basket, he could choose to pass or create his own offence. His style of play is similar to Morant’s, but Morant is 6-foot-2, while Thompson is 6-foot-1. Why he’s a compelling prospect. Many scouts couldn’t help but fall in love with him.
We said earlier that he was the “201cm Morant of the Overtime Elite League”. In fact, his playstyle, stats, etc. are so reminiscent of Morant that they are almost perfect.
The problem is that he played in the Overtime Elite League, not a college or international first team league. The Overtime Elite League is an amateur league that was founded in 2021 for 16- to 20-year-olds. It’s a fast-growing league with a huge amount of support, but let’s be honest, it’s a far cry from the first team. On 3 September 2022, the league produced its first NBA player when Dominic Barlow signed a two-way contract with the San Antonio Spurs. It’s fair to say that it’s questionable how much of this league success will translate to the NBA.
His three-point shooting percentage must improve. He attempted 2.7 per game and made 0.7. In 16 games, he only had two games where he made more than two 3-pointers. He made just one in five games. And in a whopping nine games, he didn’t make a three-pointer.
His shooting rhythm is pretty sloppy, and he doesn’t have a good feel for the game. He needs to find a good shooting coach in the NBA and completely overhaul his shooting mechanics.
Teams that might be a good fit
Thompson is projected to go as high as the third pick, or as low as the eighth pick. He’s a lock to be picked between 3 and 8.
The ideal scenario would be for him to go to the Houston Rockets, who hold the No. 4 pick. If he were to go to Houston, the Thompson-Jaylen Green guard pairing would be one of the most athletic in NBA history! Two young and promising guards on the same team would be able to play great up-tempo basketball. Plus, Thompson’s defensive prowess can help compensate for Green’s defensive weaknesses. The only variable is the James Harden (Philadelphia) trade rumours. If Harden returns to Houston, it will be very difficult for Thompson to get guaranteed playing time (due to guard saturation with Harden-Green-Kevin Porter Jr.), which is why Harden’s return is so important.
If they slip too much, they could fall as low as the eighth-ranked Washington Wizards. Washington also has a vacancy at the No. 1 spot, so they could give Thompson full playing time.
Fifth-ranked Detroit and seventh-ranked Indiana both have top-tier point guards that they could entrust with their franchise’s future. With the presence of Cade Cunningham and Tyreese Halliburton, Thompson’s role will be limited to a wing option rather than a point guard. Going to these teams will likely be a major limiting factor on his growth.
The Orlando Magic, who hold the sixth pick, have plenty of point guards but no clear-cut starter. They’re too thin at forward. Thompson’s strengths are athleticism/playmaking, which is where Paulo Benquero and Franz Wagner excel, respectively. But that doesn’t mean he can’t compete for a starting role. Orlando is not the best scenario for Thompson’s development, but it’s not the worst either.
Thompson is an attractive prospect with athleticism and passing ability. He can play the 1 through 3, which is another way of saying that he hasn’t really settled into one position. His future in the NBA will depend on which coach he meets and what role he is given.