Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson, twin brothers who bypassed college to compete in the Overtime Elite program, are projected lottery picks in the upcoming 2023 NBA draft. Israel Gutierrez of ESPN recently caught up with the brothers during Game 3 of the first-round series between Atlanta and Boston.
While much of the hype leading up to June’s draft has centered on French phenom Victor Wembanyama, the projected top overall pick, and G League Ignite’s Scoot Henderson, a projected top-three pick, Amen says he’s confident he’s one of the top players in the world.
“They always bring up those names, ‘How you going to pass Victor and Scoot, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” Amen said. “And it’s just like, I’m going to do my thing. I’m going to run my race. And I think if I run my race, I’m one of the best players there is.”
The biggest question marks surrounding Amen and Ausar are the level of competition they faced at OTE and their jump shots, writes Gutierrez. Both players worked extensively on their jumpers over their two years at OTE, but it’s still a focus for improvement going forward.
“I’m improving on shooting, working on pick and roll reads, just reads in general,” Ausar said, per Gutierrez. “My ability to get paint touches, collapse the defense and kick it out for others. Then for myself, just getting open and being able to rise up over defenders and hit a jump shot, or get to the cup.”
Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:
- Former NBA forward Sam Dekker, a 2015 first-round pick, has signed a long-term extension with the London Lions of the British Basketball League, the team announced in a press release. The team captain averaged 18.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 2.9 APG during the 7Days EuroCup last fall and is under contract through 2026, per the Lions.
- Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic spoke to four NBA players who are Premier League fans about the NBA’s new in-season tournament, which will begin next season and was roughly modeled on European soccer tournaments. All four like the idea and believe it could be an interesting way for younger teams to get experience in a more competitive environment. “It’s gonna be really good for our league,” Pacers guard T.J. McConnell said. “Seasons can — not necessarily drag on — but adding an in-season tournament there just to like reinvigorate fan interest and give something that the players are playing for, another competitive type of environment, I think it’s going to be really good.”
- Although the majority of the moves didn’t draw as much attention as the blockbusters over the past year, five guards acquired via trades have made a significant impact in their respective teams’ playoff runs, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. The five players Hollinger points to are the Nuggets‘ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (a trade he says he wasn’t a fan of at the time, but has been proven very wrong), the Knicks‘ Josh Hart, the Celtics‘ Malcolm Brogdon, the Sixers‘ De’Anthony Melton, and the Lakers‘ D’Angelo Russell.