Fort Lauderdale, Florida has produced a number of NBA players: Keyon Dooling, Mitch Richmond, Brandon Knight, and now two twins from Pine Crest School are trying to make a jump into NBA stardom.
Amen and Ausar Thompson, two twins currently playing in the Overtime Elite League, are projected lottery picks in the 2023 NBA Draft. Not long ago, the twins held offers from the University of Florida, Auburn, and Alabama. Instead, they decided to follow a path more and more players are taking now: the professional route.
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We’re entering a new era regarding the path to the NBA. In the past few years, American-born players have found their way into the league taking routes alternative to the NCAA, the traditional path. Guys like RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball have taken the overseas route, playing in the NBL (Australia), while other players like Jalen Green have taken a sum of money from the NBA itself to play for the G-League Ignite.
The Overtime Elite League falls into that category similar to the G-League Ignite. In 2021, Overtime, a company focused on producing athletic highlights, merchandise, and other content founded a league of three teams based out of Atlanta. Players out of high school would be paid a minimum of $100,000 to compete against other high schools and teams in the OTE League in an attempt to develop for the NBA.
Amen and Ausar Thompson are the first two OTE players to be projected in the lottery and have the potential to be the first to get drafted. With the league being in existence for under two years, this is a step forward for Overtime and its brand.
But just how legit is the OTE League? Remember, had the Thompson twins taken the collegiate route, they would have played against top NCAA athletes. Instead, they are still playing against high schools and prep teams. Not to say that the competition isn’t high, but we’re talking about high school versus college; growing men versus grown men. Playing against Cameron Boozer from the class of 2025 is different than facing up against 22-year-old Drew Timme.
Dom Barlow is the only active NBA player from the OTE League, however he went undrafted in 2022 and is on a two-way contract with the San Antonio Spurs. Jai Smith and Jean Montero both signed contracts to play in the NBA Summer League, but they haven’t yet stepped onto an NBA court.
So is the OTE League a legit way to determine NBA prospects? Probably not. It’s just not as high-level as an overseas league, the NCAA, or even the G-League. But are the Thompson twins legit? Surprisingly, yes.
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While the competition of OTE does affect the perception of players, the Thompson twins avoid the negativity with their significant upside. Both are nearly identical in the way they play: floor generals with high IQ and the ability to attack efficiently, as well as having a knack for defense. However, Ausar is the better shooter, while Amen is regarded as the more explosive of the two.
Ausar is averaging 18.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, with an impressive 3.5 steals and 1.0 blocks in four games with the City Reapers. Amen, also on the City Reapers, is averaging 15.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.5 assists, with another impressive defensive stat line of 1.8 steals and 0.3 blocks.
Just looking at the statistics, Ausar seems like the better option, but most mock drafts actually have Amen going higher. Many mock drafts were created before the OTE season, so if Ausar can keep up his 42.9% shooting from three, it is likely he will surpass Amen on most teams’ big boards. In retrospect, it’s more or less a pick-your-poison scenario.
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Even though they aren’t playing against better competition, I still think scouts are right to praise the twins and hold them high on mock drafts. They have amazing potential offensively, with high IQ ball handling and passing, as well as an already-superb defensive IQ. Athletically they are some of the best in the 2023 draft class, and the impact they have on the NBA should be huge. Don’t sleep on the Thompson twins.