“Situational Analysis” is a series of articles that seeks to examine the circumstances that most often influence an NBA prospect’s success. Each player will be scored on a scale from 1-10 in four different categories: NBA-specific skill(s), flaw(s), collegiate/overseas/pre-NBA environment, and ideal NBA ecosystem.

Amen Thompson is a 20-year-old guard/wing from Oakland who averaged 16.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game for the City Reapers within the Overtime Elite program. He is expected to be selected in the top half of the lottery in this year’s draft. NBADraft.net currently has him projected at No. 4.

NBA-Specific Skills

I never thought I would see a faster end-to-end player than John Wall.

Multiple significant injuries and the undefeated Father Time have removed Wall’s blinding-fast fifth gear, but before he ended up at the University of Kentucky and went No. 1 overall in the 2010 draft, Wall could cover length of a basketball court faster than normal people can cover their mouths on a sneeze. Wall was somehow faster with a live dribble than he was in an all-out sprint.

We’ve seen a handful of other prospects compete with Wall’s jets – Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Ja Morant – but Amen Thompson is the first one I’ve seen on that level with this kind of height and length.

Most of the NBA’s track stars stand around 6-4 or below, but Thompson is a legit 6-7 in shoes with jump-out-of-the-gym athleticism and a surprisingly mature change-of-pace dribble drive that makes him nearly impossible to defend in transition. He doesn’t play in fifth gear all the time, which makes it that much more effective when he floors it.

Typically, the players we see with the most effective start-and-stop, herky-jerky games are marginal NBA-level athletes who rely on extra craftiness to create open spaces. Thompson combines an advanced “old-man game” with top 0.1% athleticism. He should be a foul-drawing machine once he adjusts to professional competition.

Thompson is also an adept floor general with an unselfish nature. He loves to make the extra pass and throw lobs in transition. He has played a lot of point guard already and projects as an intriguing secondary playmaking option, given his height and versatility.

Defensively, he possesses the measurables and frame to switch along all positions on the perimeter. With added focus, he could be a two-way menace.

On a scale from 1-10, Thompson’s speed at his size rates at a 9.


Thompson’s jumper isn’t just shaky – it’s in need of a ground-up rebuild.

His mechanics seem to change from shot to shot. Even if nobody is within 10 feet of Thompson, it’s unclear whether he knows where the shot is going sometimes.

He connected on only 23% of his 3-point attempts at Overtime Elite, and even more concerning, he posted a 64.6% mark from the foul line. Thompson’s potentially elite driving ability will be negated if he can’t consistently knock down his free throws.

Thompson also has a tendency to try to force a spectacular play when a routine one will suffice. He commits more than three turnovers per game, often while trying to create a highlight that simply isn’t open. This habit also infects his defensive mentality, where he will get caught out of position lunging for steals.

On a scale from 1 (not a concern) to 10 (serious hindrance), Thompson’s jumper rates at a 9.

Pre-NBA Setting

Thompson and his twin brother, Ausar, each took somewhat unconventional routes to NBA lottery-pick status. The Thompsons grew up in California with their father, former Olympic sprinter Mark Thompson, taking charge of their basketball training in middle school. The kids were homeschooled before the Thompsons moved to Florida, where Amen and Ausar starred for Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale for one year.

The Thompsons received several offers from major college basketball programs before electing to go with Overtime Elite.

Amen is generally considered a more intriguing NBA prospect, thanks to his burgeoning point guard skills, but Ausar was perhaps the more accomplished player during their Overtime Elite stints.

It’s exceedingly difficult to play oneself into a position to be selected in the NBA draft lottery, and almost impossible for twin brothers to achieve it. While it isn’t the most common path toward that goal, and another path with a higher level of competition may have prepared them for a smoother NBA transition, they will still be high draft picks. The Thompsons’ pre-NBA career rates at an 8.

Ideal NBA Ecosystem

It is widely assumed that Victor Wembanyama, Brandon Miller, and Scoot Henderson will be the first three names called on draft night in some order. Amen Thompson is among the most sought-after prospects in the next tier of the draft.

The Houston Rockets, picking fourth, need help everywhere. With Jalen Green, Jabari Smith, and Alperen Sengun as their core, it’s easy to envision a scenario where Thompson slots in as the unselfish, playmaking guard who helps create open looks for his teammates and teams up with Green in an athletically electrifying backcourt. However, the Rockets are signaling that they want to start winning games right away, and Thompson’s development curve might not align with what Tilman Fertitta sees for his squad, especially if the rumors swirling around a potential James Harden reunion are true.

If the Rockets pass on Thompson, it’s likely that the Detroit Pistons would pounce on him at No. 5. Thompson is an ideal secondary playmaking option alongside Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, and the Pistons are in a position where they can wait on Thompson’s jumper and defensive IQ to develop. The Pistons need to lock in on a coach before we can make any kind of assumptions about the team’s developmental philosophy, however.

Elsewhere in the lottery, Orlando and Indiana are fascinating potential landing spots, as the Magic are still in need of playmaking help to open up the court for their stellar forwards and the Pacers are building around Tyrese Haliburton’s unselfish game. Thompson could thrive with either franchise.

On a scale from 1-10, Thompson’s situational dependence rates at a 9.5. Thompson is raw – on both ends – and it will take time before he is ready to maximize his potential. A team expecting him to take the reins for 30-plus minutes per game right away will need to live with a lot of missed jumpers and shoddy defensive rotations while he figures out the NBA game. But that franchise’s patience could pay off in a big way, as Thompson’s upside and versatility is tough to find.


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