Amen Thompson

And-Ones: Faried, CBA, Wembanyama, Thompson Twins

In a conversation with Sam Yip of HoopsHype, Kenneth Faried admits that it has been “extremely difficult” to be out of the NBA since 2019, since he believes that he’s still capable of playing at that level and helping a team. Faried is currently suiting up for the Mexico City Capitanes in the G League as he seeks an NBA comeback.

“At the same time, patience is a virtue. I’m very patient,” Faried said. “I’m working hard towards showing that I can still do it at that level. … I’m ready, I’m focused, I’m locked in, I’m a better vet, a better person, a better leader and I don’t even need to be a leader. I can be quiet and sit back and just follow whoever the leader is.”

As Yip points out, Faried is one of several NBA veterans playing for Mexico City’s G League team. Shabazz Napier, Gary Clark, and Mason Jones are among the other Capitanes players hoping for a call-up.

“For us to now be on a team, and all trying to have the same kind of goal to make it back to the NBA and try to find a way is great, because we’re not trying to be selfish to each other,” Faried said. “We’re trying to help each other. And everyone’s here trying to help each other get better, trying to showcase that we’re still good enough in great shape and ready for whatever may happen, ready for a contract for real.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Don’t expect the NBA’s next Collective Bargaining Agreement to include an upper spending limit (ie. a hard cap), ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said during the latest episode of his Hoop Collective podcast. The NBA was reportedly pushing a de facto hard cap earlier in CBA discussions, but Windhorst believes negotiations between the two sides would be far more contentious if the league was still prioritizing that concept. He does think there will be changes made to the luxury tax system, however.
  • Although the 2017 CBA improved the guidelines for veteran contract extensions and led to a huge uptick in those deals, the rule limiting players to a 20% raise for the first year of an extension is outdated, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN, who notes that it makes it virtually impossible for clubs to extend players who are coming off team-friendly deals. Marks suggests tweaking the rule to allow teams to offer the same amount in an extension that they’d be able to in free agency.
  • Top prospect Victor Wembanyama is expected to play for France’s national team in two World Cup qualifying contests next month, as Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops writes. The February 23 and 26 games conflict with the EuroLeague schedule, but Wembyanama’s Metropolitans 92 aren’t a EuroLeague team.
  • Twins Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson, projected top-10 picks in the 2023 NBA draft, are looking forward to competing against other top players from their draft class and showing how the Overtime Elite program has benefited them, writes Jacob Polacheck of ZagsBlog.com.

And-Ones: NBAGL, Dunn, Noel, Klutch, CBA, 2023 Draft

The NBA G League will have an increased presence at this year’s NBA All-Star weekend, having introduced a new Next Up Game that will take place on Sunday, February 19 prior to the NBA’s All-Star Game.

As outlined in a G League press release, the game will feature 24 NBAGL standouts, with 10 of those players selected by fan vote.

Players on G League contracts or two-way deals who have appeared in at least four games this season will be eligible to participate in the game. However, players on standard NBA contracts won’t be — that means you wouldn’t be able to vote for, say, Warriors center James Wiseman, despite the fact that he has appeared in 10 games this season for Santa Cruz.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington take a closer look at Kris Dunn‘s efforts to “get back to the NBA the correct way.” The former No. 5 overall pick is playing this season for the Capital City Go-Go, the Wizards‘ G League affiliate, and is seeing his work on a revamped jump shot pay dividends. In 20 G League games, Dunn is making 58.2% of his shots from the field and 42.1% of his three-pointers.
  • Pistons center Nerlens Noel and Klutch Sports reached a settlement in their financial dispute this week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who tweets that Noel has agreed to pay Rich Paul and Klutch the commission fees on his 2020 Knicks deal and has dropped his legal proceedings against the agency. Noel sued Paul and Klutch back in 2021 after the agency filed a grievance over $200K in commission that the big man hadn’t paid.
  • Although there’s still no agreement between the NBA and the players’ union on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, there’s too much money at stake to expect a work stoppage, Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com writes in a check-in on the league’s labor talks.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic and Jeremy Woo of SI.com both published new 2023 mock drafts this week. There are plenty of differences between the two mocks starting at No. 3, where Vecenie has Amen Thompson of Overtime Elite and Woo has Arkansas’ Anthony Black. Woo has Thompson at No. 6 in his mock, while Vecenie has Black all the way down at No. 11 in his.

And-Ones: Wembanyama, 2023 Draft, Best Trade Assets, More

Victor Wembanyama led France to a pair of blowout victories in this month’s World Cup qualifiers, scoring 39 total points in 48 minutes as the French team beat Lithuania by 25 points and Bosnia and Herzegovina by 36. The performances on the international stage were the latest reminder why Wembanyama is ranked atop every draft expert’s big board for 2023.

That list of draft experts includes Jonathan Givony of ESPN, who unveiled his full top-100 list for the 2023 NBA draft on Thursday, with the usual suspects (Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson) leading the way.

Givony’s initial list features Overtime Elite’s Amen Thompson at No. 3, Arkansas’ Nick Smith Jr. at No. 4, and Villanova’s Cam Whitmore at No. 5. Keyonte George, Ausar Thompson, Dillon Mitchell, Kel’el Ware, and Brandon Miller round out his top 10.

In an Insider-only story for ESPN.com, Givony also shared his impressions on this year’s Champions Classic, evaluating Duke’s Kyle Filipowski as a lottery prospect and taking a closer look at Gradey Dick‘s strong start to the season for Kansas.

  • Which NBA teams have the best collection of trade assets? Yossi Gozlan and the staff at HoopsHype rank the Thunder, Pelicans, and the Grizzlies as the top three due to their impressive mix of young talent and future draft picks. On the other end of the spectrum, the Wizards are considered the team with the least valuable trade assets.
  • Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today takes a look at nine players who are making an impact this season after changing teams in the summer, starting with Donovan Mitchell in Cleveland, while Frank Urbina of HoopsHype singles out nine players who appear to be taking a major leap forward, including Lauri Markkanen and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
  • In his latest look around the NBA, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer considers whether the Warriors and Bulls will have to turn to the trade market this season, explores Joel Embiid‘s ongoing evolution, and highlights some of the league’s most impressive three-point shooters.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic breaks out the “panic meter” to determine how concerned we should be about some would-be contenders who are off to slow starts. Hollinger isn’t too worried about the Sixers and Clippers, but has serious reservations about the Timberwolves, Nets, and Lakers, with the Heat and Warriors falling in the middle.

And-Ones: Wembanyama, 2023 Draft, Tanking, More

The NBA will give fans an opportunity to take a closer look at 2023’s projected No. 1 pick over the next several months, announcing on Thursday that all of this season’s Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 games will be available to watch for free on the NBA app. The Metropolitans 92 are, of course, Victor Wembanyama‘s team in France.

The Metropolotians 92 compete in the LNB Betclic ELITE, France’s top basketball league. According to the NBA’s announcement, the French games included on the NBA App will include the All-Star Game on December 29 and the Leaders Cup (playoff) games from February 17-19. The league has a preliminary broadcast schedule right here, though it only includes October and November games for the time being.

The buzz around Wembanyama reached a new level when his French team faced off against the G League Ignite for a pair of exhibition games earlier this month. The NBA is clearly hoping to capitalize off of the increasing level of interest in the 7’3″ super-prospect as he prepares to enter the league in 2023.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • While Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson remains locks to be the first and second players off the board in the 2023 NBA draft, there are plenty of questions behind them in the lottery, according to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. Vecenie has published an updated version of his ’23 mock draft, projecting Amen Thompson of Overtime Elite to be the No. 3 overall pick, followed by Arkansas’ Nick Smith Jr., Villanova’s Cam Whitmore, Baylor’s Keyonte George, and Duke’s Dariq Whitehead.
  • Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports suggests that the NBA should attempt to curb tanking by prohibiting teams from getting a top-three pick in back-to-back years. He hears that a version of that rule was proposed by the NBA in talks with teams and was resisted by a “small handful” of general managers, despite being favored by commissioner Adam Silver.
  • Suns center Jock Landale and Hornets big man Nick Richards are among the under-the-radar players who are worth getting to know based on their performances in the first 10 days of this NBA season, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. As Hollinger notes, both Landale and Richards will be restricted free agents in 2023.

And-Ones: Wembanyama, Henderson, Satoransky, Randall

Star prospect Victor Wembanyama will play for France’s national team in November during the next round of World Cup qualifying games, per an Associated Press report. The French club is set to face Lithuania on November 11 and will play Bosnia and Herzegovina on November 14.

Wembanyama is coming off a pair of eye-opening exhibition performances against the G League Ignite this week, as he solidified his place as the No. 1 player in the 2022 draft class by pouring in 73 points and blocking nine shots in the two games. The 18-year-old big man, who told Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press that his goal is “to be like something you’ve never seen,” is drawing rave reviews from many of the NBA’s biggest stars.

“He has the chance to be one of the best — not in his age, not in Europe — but one of the best to ever play this game,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said of Wembanyama, according to Alex Kennedy of BasketballNews.com. “We have never seen someone like that before. I think it’s a good challenge for everybody in the league, to have somebody who’s 7-foot-2 and is able to shoot over you and dribble like he’s a guard and block shots and run down the floor fast. We gotta get ready for this kid, you know? He’s going to be really good.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • While Wembanyama is considered a generational talent and earned more buzz this week, star Ignite guard Scoot Henderson isn’t ready to concede the top spot in next year’s draft, as he tells Marc J. Spears of Andscape. He also downplayed the idea that he’ll have a long-standing rivalry with the Frenchman. “I’m not worried about him,” Henderson said. “I’m worried about the next level. I’m worried about guarding Steph (Curry).”
  • Jonathan Givony’s latest 2023 mock draft at ESPN (Insider-only link) has Overtime Elite guard Amen Thompson as the No. 3 pick behind Wembanyama and Henderson, followed by Arkansas’ Nick Smith and Villanova’s Cameron Whitmore.
  • Speaking to Alex Molina of Eurohoops, veteran guard Tomas Satoransky expressed pride that he can say he was an NBA player, but admitted that he went through some “ups and downs” in the league. Satoransky said that he’s happy to be back in Europe, playing for Barcelona, because his new deal offers more stability for him and his family than he would have had in the NBA.
  • Former UT Martin guard Craig Randall, who averaged 26.7 PPG for the Long Island Nets last season, tells Tim MacMahon of ESPN that he turned down NBA camp offers that included guaranteed money. Randall instead opted to head to Australia’s National Basketball League, where he’ll have a chance to play a significant role for the Adelaide 36ers. Randall and teammates Antonius Cleveland and Robert Franks all have NBA out clauses in their contracts with Adelaide, according to MacMahon.

And-Ones: Russia, Okafor, Clark, Overtime Elite, Kuzminskas

Despite its war with Ukraine and controversial imprisonment of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Russia is still viewed as a viable destination for some U.S. basketball players, writes Jonathan Abrams of The New York Times. There are projected to be about 30 American men participating in Russia this year, which is twice the normal rate. Those who made the decision cited the financial incentives, which include salaries of more than $1MM, along with free housing and cars.

“Everybody’s going to say, ‘Why would you go there?’” said 35-year-old K.C. Rivers, who has played for several Russian teams. “But at the end of the day, you still have mouths to feed. You still have family to provide for. And sometimes it is not always the easiest decision, but you have to do what’s best for you. You can’t make decisions based off of what the general society says.”

Female players, even those in the WNBA, formerly viewed Russia as a great money-making opportunity, but that has largely changed because of the Griner case. However, those who are still willing to travel to Russia are finding offers more lucrative than ever. An agent told Abrams that Russian teams are paying 50% more this year to women and sometimes they triple the salaries offered in other countries.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball globe:

  • The Mexico City Capitanes, who will be a full-fledged participant in the G League regular season for the first time in 2022/23, have acquired the returning rights to NBA veterans Jahlil Okafor and Gary Clark, league sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link).
  • Overtime Elite will add three high school teams for its upcoming season, states Jacob Polacheck of Zagsblog. The programs are Hillcrest Prep (Arizona), Our Saviour Lutheran (New York) and Word of God (North Carolina). The league will have 20 players returning from last season, including Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson, who are both projected as top-10 picks in the 2023 draft. The newest addition to Overtime Elite is 7’0″ high school junior Somto Cyril, who is considered among the 25 best players in the Class of 2024, per Eric Bossi of 247 Sports.
  • Former Knicks player Mindaugas Kuzminskas has signed with Pinar Karsiyaka in Turkey, according to Eurohoops. The 32-year-old small forward played for Lithuania during EuroBasket.
  • USA Basketball will resume its Junior National Team minicamp after a two-year absence due to the pandemic, writes Jonathan Givony of ESPN. It will take place October 7-10 in Colorado Springs. “This camp has been an important part of developing our junior national team, and we’re really happy to be back doing it again,” said Sean Ford, national team director of USA Basketball. “The world is getting better at a faster rate than we are improving, so we need to continue to improve with more camps, continuity and teaching.”

And-Ones: T. Scott, 2023 Draft, ’23 Cap, Freedom

NBA and G League veteran Tre Scott is headed overseas for the 2022/23 season, having signed with Fos Provence Basket, the French team announced in a press release.

Scott, who went undrafted out of Cincinnati in 2020, has spent most of his first two professional seasons in the NBAGL, playing for the Salt Lake City Stars, the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, and the Cleveland Charge.

The 6’8″ forward earned a call-up to the NBA last December during the league’s COVID-19 outbreak, signing a 10-day hardship deal with the Cavaliers. He appeared in two games for the Cavs during his brief NBA stint, scoring six points and grabbing a couple rebounds in 11 total minutes of action.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report shares his first 2023 mock draft, headed by French big man Victor Wembanyama and G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson. Overtime Elite wing Amen Thompson, Duke swingman Dariq Whitehead, and Villanova forward Cam Whitmore round out Wasserman’s initial top five.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype takes a look at the teams currently projected to have the most cap room in 2023, including the Spurs, Rockets, Pistons, and Magic.
  • In an interview with Israeli outlet Walla, free agent center Enes Freedom said he hasn’t received any offers from NBA teams this offseason (hat tip to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops). Freedom attributed that lack of NBA interest to the comments he has made denouncing China, though it’s worth noting that his minutes were already on the decline due to his subpar outside shooting and defense.

And-Ones: Young Point Guards, Henson, Holmgren, Draft

Rising Grizzlies star Ja Morant has enjoyed a breakout year in Memphis, but 11 of 15 scouts and executives polled by Tim Bontemps of ESPN would still take Mavericks star Luka Doncic over Morant if they were picking a young point guard to build around.

Bontemps asked those 15 scouts and execs to rank Doncic, Morant, Trae Young, LaMelo Ball, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Darius Garland, and got some interesting responses. Doncic was the overwhelming top pick, with Morant (who had the other four first-place votes) coming in second, followed by Young in third. Ball and Gilgeous-Alexander were neck and neck for the fourth spot, with Garland bringing up the rear.

The question engendered plenty of debate, according to Bontemps, who notes that the respondents’ evaluations of certain prospects varied significantly. For instance, one Eastern Conference executive believes that Gilgeous-Alexander could be “potentially be doing a lot of the same things” as Morant if their situations were flipped, while an East scout said SGA is “clearly last” of the six in his view, since the others are better at passing and making plays for teammates.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA lottery pick John Henson has signed with Mets de Guaynabo for the upcoming season in Puerto Rico, tweets agent Christian Santaella. Henson, who has appeared in 445 regular season NBA games, signed a 10-day contract with the Knicks last April, but hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2019/20 season.
  • In an Insider-only story for ESPN, Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz explore why Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren is such a polarizing player for NBA scouts. As ESPN’s duo explains, Holmgren is a one-of-a-kind prospect who can’t be easily compared to current or former NBA players, making it more difficult to evaluate both his potential upside and his potential risk.
  • Givony and Schmitz have also updated their top-100 prospect list for the 2022 NBA draft and discussed some of the players who have recently risen up that big board.
  • Jeremy Woo of SI.com takes an in-depth look at Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson, identical twins who are candidates to be drafted in the lottery in 2023. The Thompson twins, who are currently playing for Overtime Elite, both went in the top 10 of ESPN’s most recent 2023 mock draft.

And-Ones: Wiggins, Canada, Overtime Elite, Yabusele, More

It has been several years since Warriors wing Andrew Wiggins represented Team Canada in an international competition, but it appears that’s about to change. As Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets, Wiggins posted a message on Instagram strongly suggesting that he’ll suit up for Canada when the team competes in the Olympic qualifiers this summer.

Eight of the 12 teams that will compete in the men’s basketball event at the Tokyo Olympics have clinched their spots, including Team USA. Twenty-four countries will compete in four separate tournaments from June 29 to July 4 for the final four Olympic berths. In order to qualify for the Tokyo games, Canada will have to top Greece, China, Uruguay, Turkey, and the Czech Republic.

While it certainly won’t be a cakewalk, Canada will benefit from home-court advantage – the tournament will take place in Victoria, British Columbia – and could deploy a roster featuring far more NBA players than their opponents. Wiggins, who averaged 18.6 points per game in 71 contests for Golden State this season, would be a key addition.

“I don’t think there’s any question about what he can bring,” Canada Basketball general manager Rowan Barrett said, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. “The versatility he has at 6’8″ with a tremendous wingspan and with the focus he has on defense now will help us. And as an offensive player, it’s clear. He’s got a career average of 20 points a game in the NBA. Clearly he can score the ball.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The Overtime Elite league has secured two more commitments from top high school prospects, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Florida twins Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson are signing two-year contracts with OTE. The Thompson twins rank 22nd and 23rd in ESPN’s list of top class-of-2022 recruits. Overtime’s first two commits were twin brothers Matt Bewley and Ryan Bewley.
  • Speaking of high school basketball, Jeff Borzello and Paul Biancardi of ESPN report that several of the nation’s biggest high school powerhouses are forming an elite national league called the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference in advance of the 2021/22 season. Six programs – including Oak Hill, Montverde, and IMG Academy – have committed so far to the eight-team league that will feature a 10-game regular season and a postseason tournament, per ESPN’s duo.
  • Former Celtics first-round pick Guerschon Yabusele is in advanced talks with Real Madrid, reports Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas (via Twitter). If Yabusele doesn’t feel he has an NBA opportunity lined up, he’ll likely sign with Real Madrid, Urbonas adds.