A nutty athlete with a wing’s size and a point guard’s mind, Amen Thompson’s star potential jumps off the screen.
Some NBA and college basketball fans might have trouble watching Amen Thompson this season. He’s playing for the Overtime City Reapers, part of Overtime Elite — Atlanta’s six-team professional league for players 16-20 years old. To make matters even more challenging, the causal viewer might have trouble distinguishing between Amen and his twin brother, Ausar, who plays for the same team. It can get confusing.
That said, those interested in the NBA Draft and the future of the league should get familiar with Thompson’s name. Because he’s coming. A bouncy athlete and frequenter of highlight reels, Thompson will bring no shortage of zest and flare to the NBA level.
With Victor Wembanyama long established as the favorite to go No. 1 on draft night, Thompson will be in the fight for second place. A conciliation prize in the eyes of many, but what a conciliation he would be. Thompson has All-Star potential written all over him.
Amen Thompson NBA Draft bio
Weight: 199 pounds
Birthdate: Jan. 30, 2003
Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard
Offensive Role: Lead ball-handler, slasher
Defensive Role: Multi-positional stopper
Projected Draft Range: Top 5
NBA Draft highlights
Thompson is a marvelous athlete to watch. The dude just levitates. Blessed with a monster first step, Thompson can explode down the lane and finish with endless style at the rim. He’s the premier poster maker of this class and he knows how to put that athleticism to good use.
At 6-foot-7, Thompson has tremendous size for a lead ball-handler. He can see over the top of defenders and make every read in the book as a passer. In fact, Thompson might be the best passer in the draft. His head’s always on a swivel and he’s willing to make the extra pass. Considering his talent for getting downhill and collapsing the defense, Thompson should have no trouble racking up assists at the next level.
A gifted slasher and playmaker, Thompson also makes his presence felt defensively. Again, he’s just a major athlete with the size and lateral quickness to guard several positions. He competes hard at the point of attack and gets his hands in passing lanes. Few players his age are better at translating turnovers into fast-break advantages offensively. Once he’s running full speed in the open court, Thompson’s progress toward the rim is all but inevitable.
While he has improved notably as a perimeter shooter, Thompson’s jumper is still streaky. If he’s going to maximize his scoring upside at the next level, he’ll have to become more efficient from 3-point range and on pull-up jumpers. If he can make defenders fight over the screen instead of sagging back, it’s game over.
Also, Thompson will have to prove he can contribute without the ball in his hands offensively. Whoever drafts Thompson will probably want him running the show, but there are plenty of talented NBA guards on lottery teams. If Thompson shares playmaking duties with another high-level player and finds himself stationed off-ball for long stretches, how effectively does he keep his defender engaged?
Beyond that, the hold-ups are few and far between. Thompson’s blend of size, twitch, and fluidity is extremely rare. Even by NBA standards, his athleticism will stand out from the crowd. The only other minor qualm is the low level of competition: Overtime Elite pales in comparison to college ball, the NBA G-League, or upper-level European leagues.
Amen Thompson should float around the upper half of the lottery conversation all season. He’s a singular athlete with the basketball IQ and competitive spirit needed to attain stardom. All the intangibles are there, and the skill isn’t far behind. If you buy into his jumper — and there’s reason to believe he can knock down enough 3s at the next level — then it’s difficult to imagine Thompson not finding his way in the NBA.
He will elevate the entertainment value of whichever team drafts him while also elevating his teammates. The front offices focused on TV ratings will covet Thompson. The teams focused on building balanced, cohesive rosters will also value Thompson. He’s going to be really good, folks. I’d seek out some Overtime Elite games.