Amen Thompson

NBA Announces 2023/24 All-Rookie Teams

The NBA officially unveiled the two All-Rookie teams for the 2023/24 season on Monday (Twitter links). The teams are as follows:

First Team

Second Team

Unsurprisingly, Wembanyama and Holmgren were unanimous selections to the first team (Twitter link). Last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Wembanyama was also the unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year, with Holmgren receiving all but one second-place vote for that award.

The entire first team mirrored the Rookie of the Year balloting, with Miller, Jaquez and Podziemski coming in third through fifth. Lively received the most points for the second team, followed by Thompson, George, Wallace and Jackson.

Jackson is the only All-Rookie member who wasn’t drafted in the first round; he was selected 45th overall in 2023 and initially signed a two-way contract. He was converted to a standard contract in February.

The current youngest player in the NBA, Jackson didn’t start receiving regular minutes until mid-January. The 19-year-old put up some big numbers down the stretch though, including 31 points and 44 points in the final two games of the season.

Jackson beat out Warriors big man Trayce Jackson-Davis for the final spot on the second team by a single point. Jackson actually received fewer overall votes (38 vs. 42 for Jackson-Davis), but earned the nod by receiving five first-team votes, which were worth two points apiece (second-team votes were worth one point each).

A total of 22 rookies received at least one vote. Aside from Jackson-Davis, the other top finishers who didn’t make the cut were Pistons forward Ausar Thompson (35 points), Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson (33), and Wizards wing Bilal Coulibaly (14). Ausar is Amen’s identical twin brother.

All-Rookie was one of the awards that didn’t require players to meet the newly instituted 65-game minimum. Jackson, Lively, Thompson, and Wallace didn’t meet that criteria, but they were still eligible for All-Rookie honors.

Southwest Notes: Thompson, Sochan, Jones, Mavs

While Jalen Green has been the breakout star of the Rockets‘ recent hot streak, the contributions of Amen Thompson during the team’s 11 straight wins shouldn’t be overlooked, Tim MacMahon of ESPN said on the latest Hoop Collective podcast (YouTube link).

After spending most of his rookie season coming off the bench, Thompson has started the past nine games and is averaging 15.9 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 30.2 minutes per game during that stretch. While he has provided secondary scoring and play-making for the Rockets, it’s Thompson’s defensive ability that excites the team the most, according to MacMahon.

“The Rockets believe – and have data to back up – that he can be the best non-big defender in the NBA really soon,” MacMahon said.

The primary knock against Thompson is that he has yet to develop an outside shot — he has made just 8-of-55 three-point attempts this season, for an ugly conversion rate of 14.5%. If he can eventually add that facet to his game, his ceiling would only grow higher.

“He’s a jump shot away from being an All-Star for sure, and possibly higher than that,” ESPN’s Tim Bontemps added.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Spurs forward Jeremy Sochan suffered a left ankle impingement during Friday’s win over New York, jeopardizing his availability for the rest of this season, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. As Orsborn notes, Sochan hasn’t missed a game this season and had expressed a desire to play in all 82, but he has been ruled out for Sunday’s contest against Golden State and figures to miss more time beyond that.
  • Pelicans forward Herbert Jones met the 65-game criteria for end-of-season award consideration on Saturday night, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. It was technically Jones’ 68th game of the season, but he played between 15 and 20 minutes in five of them, and only two of those outings could count toward his 65-game minimum. Jones is considered a strong candidate for one of the 10 All-Defensive spots and could earn Defensive Player of the Year consideration as well.
  • The Mavericks‘ backcourt duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have come a long way over the past 13-plus months, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). As Townsend observes, the two stars first played together against Sacramento last February, so this week’s back-to-back victories over the Kings, which extended Dallas’ win streak to six games, represented an encouraging full-circle moment. “I always said, this training camp, when got some practices in together, it would be way easier for us to function better,” Doncic said. “And I think it shows, especially now. I think we’re both happy and we’re both doing some good things on the floor. And we have great teammates. So I think this team is special.”

Texas Notes: Spurs, Luka, VanVleet, Thompson

Mavericks All-Star guard Luka Doncic appears to be growing as a leader in Dallas, opines Eddie Sefko of After Dallas survived a poor shooting night from its best player to beat the Spurs 113-107 this past Tuesday, Doncic expressed his gratitude to his teammates.

“One of the biggest things after the game is he thanked his teammates in the locker room for picking him up,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “When a leader says that, those are big words. You come into the locker room and you don’t shoot the ball extremely well, but you rely on being the quarterback and other guys picked him up.”

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Standout Spurs rookie center Victor Wembanyama is relishing his tenure under five-time title-winning head coach Gregg Popovich, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “It’s pretty precious and one of the reasons that make this place the best place,” Wembanyama said.
  • Veteran Spurs point guard Devonte’ Graham has emerged as a locker room leader with the club this season, despite not seeing much time on the hardwood, Orsborn adds. “Obviously, we are not going to be playing much basketball in late April, but Devonte’ Graham on our team has held us together,” Popovich said. “He comes out every day whether at shootaround or practice or whatever we might be doing and is in the middle of everything, upbeat.” 
  • The league has rescinded a technical foul assessed to Rockets point guard Fred VanVleet during the team’s 127-117 victory over the Bulls on Thursday, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).
  • Rockets rookie forward Amen Thompson has been frequently tasked with covering opposing centers defensively, with starting Houston five Alperen Sengun now out for the season, writes Feigen in another piece. Head coach Ime Udoka has been able to mitigate the 6’7″ Thompson’s lack of a jumper by exploiting his athleticism in matchups against bigger, less mobile centers. “Him in the roll, him in the pocket with his passing ability is an asset to have,” Udoka said. “We’ve mentioned guys like Ben Simmons, guys like Giannis (Antetokounmpo) who have done similar things at times in their career. He can learn to implement those things.” Across his last five contests, Thompson has averaged 16.4 PPG on 64.2% shooting from the floor, along with 9.4 RPG, 3.0 APG, and 1.2 SPG. “You’ve seen him improve just with the playing time alone, let alone the role we’re asking him to do,” Udoka continued. “A guy that’s had the ball in his hands his whole career, you put him out there with Fred and Jalen (Green) in the starting lineup now, you kind of have to divide those opportunities, the ball-handling duties. He does impact it in other ways.”

Southwest Notes: Irving, Bane, Collins, Rockets

Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving hit a remarkable game-winner on Sunday against Denver (YouTube link), converting a left-handed floater/hook shot over Nikola Jokic as time expired. The game was tied prior to Irving’s heroics, with impressive back-and-forth shot-making from both teams in the final two minutes.

According to Eddie Sefko of, Irving’s teammates lavished praise on the eight-time All-Star after the game.

Unbelievable, man,” Luka Doncic said. “I don’t think people realize how tough of a shot that is. With the off-hand, like even to have a chance. I don’t think I have seen anything that special.”

I’ve seen a lot of great shots, but I think that one takes the cake,” added Dereck Lively.

Irving discussed the shot and the challenges of playing during Ramadan at his post-game media session (YouTube link via ESPN).

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Grizzlies guard/forward Desmond Bane, who returned to action on Saturday after missing two-plus months with a Grade 3 left ankle sprain, recently sat down for an interview with Michael Wallace of Grind City Media (Twitter video link via the team). Bane said he’s still trying to regain his conditioning after a lengthy absence. He also discussed Memphis’ young players and the team’s motivation for the rest of the season.
  • Spurs backup center Zach Collins has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol, tweets Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News, who notes that the 26-year-old “took a spill” in Sunday’s overtime victory over Brooklyn. In a related move, the Spurs have recalled big man Dominick Barlow from a G League assignment ahead of Tuesday’s game vs. Dallas (Twitter link via McDonald).
  • It’s a small sample size (three games), but the Rockets have been playing well without third-year center Alperen Sengun, who is likely out for the season with ankle and knee injuries, by playing at a faster pace, spacing the floor and crashing the glass with smaller lineups, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). Rookie guard/forward Amen Thompson has been inserted into the starting lineup at power forward and he’s averaging 14.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.0 APG and 1.7 SPG while shooting 76% from the floor in the three victories (25.4 MPG). “Being small but how fast we are, defensive rebounding, we are able to push the pace, outrun every team,” Thompson said. “That’s really what’s happened. Just push it up and get a lot of fast breaks.”

Southwest Notes: Champagnie, Wesley, Thompson, Mavs, Jackson Jr.

Julian Champagnie knows that defense and rebounding must be his calling card to remain a rotation player in the league for years to come. The Spurs forward has started 35 of 50 games this season despite modest averages of 5.9 points and 4.8 shot attempts in 16.7 minutes per game.

“Whether I have five (points) or 15 or 20 or six, I think it’s just make sure I’m not a negative defender on the court,” he told Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News.

Point guard Blake Wesley, a 2022 first-round selection, has received steady playing time the last two months and wants to keep it that way. He’s cut his turnovers dramatically in his second season, committing only 29 in 36 games.

“I want to stay consistent and build on each and every game,” Wesley said. “Play hard and stay in the rotation. That’s my main goal.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Amen Thompson, the fourth pick of last year’s draft, has seen his role expand this month, including crunch-time minutes, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle notes. Thompson is averaging 13.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.4 steals in 30.6 minutes per game across nine February outings. He played 20 second-half minutes in a four-point win over Phoenix on Friday. “He’s growing on a nightly basis,” Rockets coach Ime Udoka said. “He gives us some versatility.”
  • The Mavericks began a tough four-game road trip on Sunday but coach Jason Kidd has plenty of depth now, due to the addition of big man Daniel Gafford and the imminent return of Dante Exum from injury. Kidd said his rotation could include 10 or 11 players for the time being. “We’ve got to be playing our best basketball going into April,” Kidd told Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. “That’s the goal.”
  • Jaren Jackson Jr.‘s offensive role has grown due to the heavy toll injuries have taken on his Grizzlies teammates. He’s also had to adjust to playing center often, rather than power forward. “JJ’s handled all these recent growth opportunities beautifully,” coach Taylor Jenkins told Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “We’ve thrown a lot of things at him purposely, the nature of where the roster is at.” Jackson is averaging 25.4 points and 20.7 shot attempts, along with 3.6 assists, per game this month.

Rockets’ Stone Discusses Adams Deal, Green, Deadline Talks

After the Rockets acquired Steven Adams a week before the trade deadline in a move with next season in mind, the front office had plenty of discussions about deals that would’ve helped the team more in the short term, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). According to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Houston kicked the tires on players like Kelly Olynyk, Andre Drummond, Jericho Sims, and Xavier Tillman, among others, but couldn’t find a trade that worked for both sides.

“We certainly weren’t going to do something that would hurt us on a going-forward basis,” general manager Rafael Stone said. “The moves we were the most excited about were moves where we thought that could help us in the short term and also the long term, the moves subsequent to (the trade for) Steven.
We were very excited about acquiring Steven. Subsequently, a lot of the ones we had long discussions about were moves that would have provided elements this year maybe that we don’t have, as well as stuff for the future.

“But they didn’t happen, and we’re fine with that. We like our group, and this gives everybody on our current roster an opportunity to shine.”

If the Rockets had wanted to make a more significant deal, it would’ve likely required them to part with a player from their young core: Alperen Sengun, Jalen Green, Jabari Smith, Tari Eason, Amen Thompson, or Cam Whitmore. But Stone said the team wasn’t looking to move on from any of those youngsters, adding that he and head coach Ime Udoka were in agreement on the deals they pursued and those they didn’t.

“We’re looking at the long term more so than anything,” Udoka said. “When you have that many young, talented players, you want to see what they become and not rush to judgment on anything.
As far as those guys, everyone’s going to check in when you have this amount of young talent. We’re trying to win. We’re in the development and winning stage at the same time, so people checked in. We knew they would. They are talented young guys, and we have some duplicated positions there. We like what we’re seeing from those guys and want to see what we are as a whole unit.”

Here are a few more of Stone’s most notable comments from Monday’s post-deadline media session:

On the acquisition of Adams:

“I think we got a really high-level basketball player. A guy who’s been a dominant rebounding force in the NBA for the last five, six years. One of the best defenders in the NBA. We obviously feel great with Alperen, but now we have two truly starter-level centers next year. Depth is extraordinarily important. On top of that, he’s a very different player and will be a good complement on and off the court for our group.”

On the long-term fit of Jalen Green, whose name popped up in some predeadline rumors:

“Jalen has been and continues to be, on paper, a great fit with us. He has a skill set that isn’t really replicated on our roster. My expectation of him – and he knows this, and I think he echoed in his postgame comments – my expectation is that the defense, which has gotten better, is still going to get a lot better. That the physicality and the efficiency are all going to get better. He needs to take those steps. That’s extraordinarily important. He’s aware of it. We’re aware of it. And that’s the challenge for him and for us.”

On Stone’s assessment of his own job performance in the past year:

“I’m happy with the choices we made. I think for the most part, we’ve gotten what we want. And the additions of Fred (VanVleet) and Dillon (Brooks) were necessary and really important. I like that we brought Boban (Marjanovic) back. I like that we have Jeff (Green). I love the hire of Ime. And then I think we did well drafting Cam and Amen. So we had a very successful offseason, which set us up to make the right steps for this season.

“But I would say for myself, similar to our young guys, it’s not good enough. And so they need to improve. Our front office — not just me, all of us, our coaching staff, all of us — we’ve got to continue on the grind and make sure the choices we make between now and the end of the season, the ones in the offseason all set us up to have the best possible chance to win a championship in the short term. Not meaning like a year or two, but not 20 years either. And that’s very much our goal. And my goal.”

Southwest Notes: Williamson, Wembanyama, Adams, Irving, Doncic

Zion Williamson scored the game-winning layup against the Spurs on Friday night. Afterward, the Pelicans forward lavished praise on Victor Wembanyama, who finished the game with 16 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and two steals.

“Vic is a very special player,” Williamson said of the Spurs rookie, per ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “We were just talking about it in the locker room. He’s a dude that can get two or three Defensive Player of the Years and also, I don’t want to put a limit on it, but he can get Defensive Player of the Year and MVPs. We haven’t seen nothing like that. We’ve seen things close, but not like that. He’s an amazing player. Especially with [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich] over there, he’ll continue to develop.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Wembanyama played 27 minutes against Cleveland on Saturday the second night of a back-to-back and appeared visibly fatigued at times coming off the floor, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News noted. The Spurs big man admits the NBA grind is starting to wear on him. “I’m glad my body’s healthy, even though it’s hard,” Wembanyama said. “It’s not giving me any red flags. Of course, I like everything, the conditioning to be perfect, but you got to pick your battle.” He has also battled allergies in recent days. “My immune system is also impacted,” Wembanyama said.
  • The Rockets’ acquisition of Steven Adams shows they are determined to make deals for their long-range impact, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes. Adams is out for the remainder of this season but will give Houston a quality backup center behind Alperen Şengün. It’s highly unlikely the Rockets will pursue a star-level player before the trade deadline, especially since they included Victor Oladipo’s contract in the Adams deal. They are also cautious about acquiring players who would take minutes away from rookies Cam Whitmore and Amen Thompson.
  • Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving is listed as questionable for Monday’s game against Philadelphia, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. Irving has missed the last six games with a sprained right thumb. Luka Doncic is also questionable after aggravating his sore right ankle.

Rockets Notes: Whitmore, Thompson, Brooks, Adams, Eason, VanVleet

The Rockets got 83 of their 135 points from players who are 21 or younger in a Friday win against the Raptors, observes Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen. Rookies Cam Whitmore (25 points) and Amen Thompson (19 points) both secured career highs in the victory, putting an exclamation point on impressive recent stretches for both players.

Whitmore has scored 104 points in 109 minutes over the past five games and became the second-youngest player behind Kobe Bryant to score at least 25 points in 25 or fewer minutes, according to Feigen. He wasn’t named to the Rising Stars Event, but since the start of January, Whitmore is averaging 13.8 points per game. This comes after the 19-year-old slipped to No. 20 after draft night after long having been viewed as a probable lottery pick.

The Rising Stars, draft, everything, it goes on,” Whitmore said. “I feel like I’m underrated, to be honest.

The Rockets are currently just outside the play-in picture at 23-25, but they’ve already surpassed last season’s total of 22 wins. Three of their five starters (Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith) are 21 or younger.

We know what we have going forward,” head coach Ime Udoka said. “We just, as much as we can, want to expedite the process. I think everyone is showing growth and progress this year. Can’t wait to see what they become. We do have a bunch of guys that we love. They’re taking the next step in front of our eyes.

We have more Rockets notes:

  • Swingman Dillon Brooks is excited to have former Grizzlies teammate Steven Adams on board after the Rockets acquired him this week, according to Feigen. “[Adams] was super excited,” Brooks said. “I told him, Houston is a great place. He’ll love it. He asked me about Ime. Told him, ‘Ime’s a players’ coach. Everything is for the players.’ That’s what he’s really about because he has his own routine, his own stuff to get himself ready. He’s got a lot to teach.” Brooks and Udoka raved about the physicality Adams can bring to the Rockets once he gets healthy.
  • Following a solid start to the season, forward Tari Eason hasn’t played since Jan. 1 due to a leg injury. He could be cleared to play as soon as next week, Feigen writes in another piece, and he reflected on the recovery process. “It’s been difficult, I’d say mentally, probably more than anything, just dealing with being out and having to watch the guys play and stuff like that,” Eason said. “It’s been hard, especially because I’ve never really been in a position like this. But there’s been lessons, so I feel like I’ve grown. I’ll come back stronger.
  • While he’s enjoying his time in Houston, guard Fred VanVleet often reflects on his time in Toronto, writes’s Michael Grange. VanVleet spent seven years with the Raptors, helping deliver a title in 2019. However, he knew there was a chance he wouldn’t be a Raptor forever. “I got to closely monitor Kyle [Lowry] go through the change, closely monitor DeMar [DeRozan]. Obviously those are two of my closest friends. Seeing those guys [move on] you say, ‘OK, it’s possible.’ Like, if we can trade DeMar, who the hell am I?” VanVleet said. “If Kyle got to the point where it was time for him to go — he’s the best Raptor of all time — who the hell am I? You have to be realistic with yourself. It always is a dream of a player to kind of stay with one team his whole career. But it’s getting less and less realistic these days.

Rockets Rumors: Bridges, Centers, Tate, Brogdon, Core

Despite a modest 22-24 record that places them 11th in the West, the Rockets are motivated to be buyers on the trade market at next week’s deadline and will be seeking high-level talent, according to Kelly Iko, Shams Charania, and Sam Amick of The Athletic.

As The Athletic’s trio explains, the presence of new head coach Ime Udoka – and his strong influence with the team’s top decision-makers – has contributed to an acceleration of the Rockets’ timeline. Udoka has been frustrated by the team’s “inconsistencies” and is determined to make the postseason, and his level of urgency has helped convince the front office to adjust its expectations for the club and its strategy on the trade market.

The Rockets’ interest in Nets forward Mikal Bridges, reported earlier today by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, is one example of the club’s pursuit of impact players. The Athletic’s reporters confirm that Houston’s level of interest in Bridges is “extremely high,” but echo Scotto in saying that Brooklyn continues to view the 27-year-old as a cornerstone piece and has no interest in moving him.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Houston also continues to scour the trade market for more frontcourt help, with Kelly Olynyk (Jazz), Clint Capela (Hawks), Andre Drummond (Bulls), and Robert Williams (Trail Blazers) among the big men on the team’s radar, per Iko, Charania, and Amick. Udoka would like to find a center capable of not only manning the position when Alperen Sengun is on the bench but also potentially playing alongside Sengun, like Williams and Al Horford did during Udoka’s time in Boston.
  • While the Rockets will likely look to package draft capital with expiring or pseudo-expiring contracts like those belonging to Victor Oladipo, Jock Landale, and Boban Marjanovic, they also view forward Jae’Sean Tate as “movable,” according to The Athletic’s report. League sources tell The Athletic that the Celtics and Suns have shown some level of interest in Tate.
  • A ball-handler who can defend would also be on the Rockets’ wish list, league sources tell The Athletic’s trio, who mention Trail Blazers guard Malcolm Brogdon as one player who fits the bill. However, Houston isn’t eager to cut into Cam Whitmore‘s or Amen Thompson‘s minutes, which may affect the club’s aggressiveness in pursuing backcourt help.
  • Whitmore and Thompson are considered off-limits in most trade talks, according to Iko, Charania, and Amick, who say the Rockets aren’t interested in moving Jabari Smith or Tari Eason either. Jalen Green is also in that group of young players Houston would be very reluctant to trade, though The Athletic’s reporters suggest he’s not necessarily viewed as untouchable like he would’ve been a year or two ago, with Sengun having overtaken him as the player prioritized in the Rockets’ schemes. It sounds as if Houston won’t move any of its young core players in a deal for a mere rotation upgrade, but would consider including one in a package for a star.

Southwest Notes: Jones, Pelicans, Thompson, Whitmore, Wemby

Despite an impending salary crunch, the Pelicans are not open to trading defensive ace Herbert Jones, Marc Stein reports in his latest notebook. Jones signed a four-year extension during the offseason.

By dealing Kira Lewis Jr. as part of the three-team trade featuring Pascal Siakam, New Orleans moved under the luxury tax. However, the Pelicans still face long-term financial challenges with Trey Murphy III eligible for a rookie scale contract extension this summer and generally trying to retain all the key pieces on arguably the league’s deepest roster.

The Pelicans are one of two NBA franchises to never pay the luxury tax.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans’ starting unit has not fared well in the second half of games and coach Willie Green is open to making changes, according to Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times Picayune. “We have enough data to know that it’s an issue, and we are working on it,” Green said. “Right now, we want to give them a chance to correct it. But we’re at the point where anything is on the table.”
  • With Fred VanVleet, Jeff Green, Jabari Smith Jr. and Tari Eason sitting out on Sunday, the Rockets started rookie first-rounders Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore. In the last few weeks, both have earned more playing time due to their attention to detail and physical traits, Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes. They got a defensive education trying to guard Boston’s Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis. “They did pretty well,” forward Dillon Brooks said. “Most of the time, they were on Porziņgis because (Boston) was trying to get the switch, but they played them well and physical enough. They should take that and bring it to every game.”
  • The first half of the Spurs’ season is over and The Athletic’s Mike Monroe takes a closer look at how Victor Wembanyama fared up to the midway point, noting that the rookie big man has produced despite being on a minutes restriction. Wembanyama has not played more than 27 minutes in his last 12 appearances after suffering minor ankle sprains, but has averaged 21.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game during that stretch.