The 2023 NBA Draft is one of the more highly anticipated drafts in the past decade partly because of the talent at the top of the draft. Def Pen Sports will be breaking down 14 of the best NBA prospects that have declared for the draft this year. Amen Thompson is the twin with the higher ceiling between himself and Ausar. Both played at Overtime Elite over the past two years after coming out of the heralded 2021 recruiting class. Not many people got to watch Amen and his brother over the past two years having skipped college and playing in relative obscurity with Overtime Elite but they are extremely talented. Let’s dive into what makes Amen Thompson such a highly thought-of prospect.
Like his brother Ausar, Amen Thompson is an absolute freak of an athlete. Thompson is as explosive as they come when he gets the ball in his hands and is a blur. It’s what makes him such an enticing prospect at 6’7″. Like his brother he can absolutely explode while still maintaining excellent body control. He’s quick-twitch and combines it all with good use of the start-stop ability. He does a great job of using hesitation moves and then exploding past defenders with a blazing first step that few in the game of basketball can rival. It can be limited at times because of his jump shot but as a pure athlete he will be in the upper tier of players in the league in terms of jumping ability, agility, speed, and explosiveness the minute he is drafted into the league. The athlete he is has actually taken away some shine he deserves as a playmaker like his brother gets love for. This is a player that with the right development could be an absolute superstar based on the athletic gifts he was blessed with.
Another trait he shares with his brother is the ability to defend and at a high level. It’s clear the tools are there for Amen to be a very good defender but what makes his prospects so interesting is that he has the mentality of wanting to defend and shut down his man. Not many players at his age enter the league with that sort of mindset and when combined with his excellent lateral quickness and body type makes for a potential excellent defender. Thompson has active hands and is good at forcing deflections and getting into passing lanes. On top of that, he is a great off-ball defender who always seems to be in the right spot and is consistently on time with his rotations. He will be able to guard multiple positions and has no issues battling bigger opponents as well where he is willing to fight for his position and deny entry passes. Thompson has such a high upside on this end of the floor and gives him a decent floor as a prospect in some way.
Plan and simple, this is the one thing holding Thompson back, and in a big way. While his brother struggles as a shooter as well, Amen is much further behind in terms of his outside shot and the form changes he’s implemented have not worked. It could be a real issue at the next level where teams will simply sag off and go under on screens. He at this point doesn’t have too many counter moves when trying to attack sagging defenders when they stop his first move either. He’s not likely to ever become a good shooter but if he can ever just become a somewhat passable shooter who can’t be completely ignored it would go a long way.
NBA Comparison: Ben Simmons/Andrew Wiggins Hybrid
An odd comparison but Amen Thompson has a bit of a combo player in him with Ben Simmons’s lack of shooting, excellent playmaking, and good defending. Combined with Andrew Wiggins’s athleticism, defensive IQ, and general explosiveness. If Thompson could reach Wiggins’s ability to be a passable shooter where he has gotten to while playing for the Warriors it would be excellent for his career. As of now, he is closer to Ben Simmons on that spectrum who himself was a great player for the beginning of his career before the last two seasons. Simmons found a way to really impact games in a way that Thompson could take note of. Thompson doesn’t have Simmons height but does have some similar traits that could allow him to be a successful player until the jump shot undergoes some development.