NBA Draft 2023: 5 way-too-early Rookie of the Year favorites

Victor Wembanyama, NBA Draft (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Victor Wembanyama, NBA Draft (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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Amen Thompson (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Amen Thompson (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

2023 NBA Draft: No. 3 Rookie of the Year candidate, Amen Thompson

Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. G. USA. Amen Thompson. 4. player. 169

The Rockets were beneficiaries of the league’s 3-and-D obsession, which is the broad strokes reason for Brandon Miller leapfrogging so many superior prospects to land at No. 2. The resulting fallout left Amen Thompson on the board at No. 4, the easy correct call for Houston.

If James Harden shocks everyone and returns to Houston, Thompson’s Rookie of the Year odds will take a hit. He’s a ball-dominant playmaker who doesn’t shoot 3s, especially not spotting up, so his fit with Harden would be murky at best. He’s the best athlete in the NBA and he would find ways to contribute ducking in for dunks or running the floor in transition, but Harden would take up a lot of oxygen offensively.

Assuming that doesn’t happen, Thompson is a clear top-3 candidate for Rookie of the Year. He’s the best athlete on the board and the best passer, capable of performing wizardry at full sprint to collapse the defense and locate open teammates. He doesn’t shoot yet, but he’s virtually impossible to keep out of the paint and his ability to change speed and direction off the dribble is unmatched at 6-foot-7. He’s a plus-plus handler and passer and athlete. If the shot ever comes around even a little bit, we’re talking perennial All-Star.

The Rockets will make big overtures to veteran free agents whether or not Harden returns, but Thompson should be handed the keys to the car. He forms the most athletic backcourt in the NBA alongside Jalen Green and the Rockets added Cam Whitmore (another explosive downhill driver and top-6 prospect) for good measure. Thompson will pressure the rim, move and cut around Alperen Sengun post-ups, and give Houston the offensive table-setter the team has long lacked.

Woo, the Rockets are going to be lots of fun. Thompson will make all the key pieces on that roster better.