Overtime Elite's Thompson Twins can't wait for next step in NBA: 'The work is going to show' | Zagsblog
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Tuesday / January 31.
  • Overtime Elite’s Thompson Twins can’t wait for next step in NBA: ‘The work is going to show’

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    By JACOB POLACHECK

    ATLANTA – For the last two years, the criticism has been lingering.

    “They’re running from competition.”

    “They’re playing against high schoolers.”

    “They can’t shoot.”

    With the NBA Draft just five months away, superstar twin guards Amen and Ausar Thompson aren’t shying away from the competition or the work. And it’s starting to pay dividends.

    “When the time comes and I get to actually play against players in my draft, I’m going to be ready,” Amen said. “I’ve been waiting to do that for a long time.”

    Step into the Overtime Elite gym and against the wall outside the locker room sits a poster tracking the number of shots each player in the program has attempted from January 1-9. Two names sit atop that list.

    No. 1: Ausar Thompson – 3,794

    No. 2: Amen Thompson – 3,396

    “I basically live here,” Amen said. “The work is going to show.”

    And while they have sacrificed their chances of ever playing in front of the bright lights of college basketball, it’s a decision neither of them regrets.

    “You just have to run your race,” Ausar said. “Everybody is going to have an opinion. They’re not living it. Half the time, they’re not even looking deep enough into it.”

    From the time they joined Overtime Elite until now, the Thompson twins have gone from borderline top-30 recruits in the high school class of 2022 to consensus lottery picks in the 2023 NBA Draft. The concerns are still there, but the upside is undeniable.


    Ausar Thompson of the City Reapers shoots during an Overtime Elite league game on Friday, November 18, 2022 at OTE Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Adam Hagy/Overtime Elite)
    When Thompson twins stepped into the OTE facilities for the first time in the summer of 2021, it was like nothing they had ever seen before.

    Ahead of the inaugural season for Overtime Elite, a new league looking to provide 16-20 year old basketball stars an alternative route to college in order to train for the NBA Draft, the 6-foot-7 guards from Oakland, California were faced with a range of emotions.

    For Amen, it was awe.

    “It’s what really sold me,” Amen said. “I had confidence in the program after stepping foot in this gym.”

    And for Ausar, it was uncertainty.

    “You didn’t know what was going on,” Ausar said. “They have all the top players that you had never played against or even seen.”

    Ranked No. 30 and No. 31 respectively in the 2022 247Sports Composite Rankings at the time of their decision to join OTE, after stepping foot in Atlanta, it soon became clear that Amen and Ausar were legitimate Top-10 prospects in the 2023 draft class.

    “They’re probably two of the smartest players I’ve played with,” City Reapers teammate and 2025 guard Eli Ellis said. “They study the game. They do everything a basketball player should do and more.”

    Still, concerns about their shooting persist.

    For Amen, the biggest shooting improvement has been at the free throw line. While there is still clear work to be done, he’s now up to 65.5 percent from the charity stripe, up 14 percent from last season.

    Ausar has seen his greatest improvement from the three-point line, up to 32 percent from behind the arc after shooting only 25.8 percent last season.

    Outside of shooting, however, the twins excel at basically every aspect of the game. They’re excellent defenders with super fast open-floor speed and some of the best athletes you’ll see on a basketball court.

    “I feel like I’m one of the best players in this draft,” Amen said.

    “Last year, I felt like I had a lot more bad days because of emotions than this year,” Ausar said. “This year, I’m getting a hold of my emotions.”

    The 2023 NBA Draft has been labeled as one of the best in recent memory with transcendent 7-foot-5 French superstar Victor Wembanyama projected to be selected No. 1 overall and G League Ignite electric guard Scoot Henderson projected to go No. 2 overall.

    When the No. 3 pick comes along, many are projecting either Amen or Ausar to fill that slot. According to the best available prospect rankings on ESPN’s 2023 Draft coverage, Amen comes in at No. 3 with Ausar right behind at No. 4.

    “I feel like I’m one of the best players in this draft,” Amen said. “If I can be the best I can be, I can be great. Going into this draft, I’ve really been locked in on that.”

    Sports Illustrated NBA Draft Insider Jeremy Woo has Amen at No. 6 and Ausar at No. 8 overall in his latest mock draft, but said it’s “not a foregone conclusion that they’re both going to go super high in the draft.”

    “The size, the athletic ability, the speed and their personalities are all things that will help them,” he said. “Teams still have questions, but they’re both good prospects. I’m curious to see how the pre-draft process goes for them and how teams treat the situation with them.”

    The concerns NBA teams have range from their shooting ability, their age and the competition level at Overtime Elite.

    “They’re both below average shooters at this point in time. They’re both about to be 20 [years old] going into the draft and they’re facing this huge, huge jump in level from OTE to the NBA, which no one has ever done before,” Woo said. “I think there are unknowns anytime you draft someone like that, where it’s unclear when it will translate, how it will translate and how ready they’re going to be.”

    Woo said he believes there will be additional value placed on the pre-draft process for the twins, including private workouts.

    “They’re important for everybody, but for those guys especially it will be key because teams will want to see them in a different setting, put them through their own drills and really feel it out,” he said.

    The draft cycle has driven lots and lots of attention, including praise from 12-time NBA All-Star and 2x NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant.

    “They got a lot of potential,” Durant said. “Obviously, you gotta keep working, you gotta keep dreaming. They got the tools and skills to be veteran players in this league. The goal is to have longevity and to be in it for a long time and they’ve got the tools to do that. So, I’m excited to watch them. It’s been fun watching them grow the last couple years and we’ll see them up here in the league soon.”

    Talk to people inside the Overtime Elite program and the praise extends even further.

    “These guys are probably our hardest working guys,” Overtime Elite general manager and head of basketball Damien Wilkins said. “[They’re] constantly in the gym, constantly asking questions, constantly trying to find ways to improve.”


    Amen Thompson of the City Reapers is introduced before an Overtime Elite league game on Friday, November 18, 2022 at OTE Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Adam Hagy/Overtime Elite)
    Their similarities extend further than just their looks, but also into their play on the court. While Amen is more of a primary ball handler, Ausar is a slightly better shooter. They’re both incredible athletes, but with Amen’s 40 inch max vertical and Ausar’s 38 inch max vert, Amen has a slight edge in that category.

    Amen is averaging 16.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 2.3 steals and 0.9 blocks per game this season in 14 games. He’s shooting 53.5 percent from the field, 23.1 percent from three-point range and 65.5 percent from the free throw line.

    “Amen just has to continue to play. He’s working hard, an outstanding young man,” Kevin Ollie, Overtime Elite head of coaching and basketball development, said. “He’s attacking, getting to the rim and we love that stuff, but when you get to the free throw line, you have to convert. We want him to stay in the center, learn from this and get better.”

    Ausar, meanwhile, is averaging a very similar stat line with 16.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per game in 14 games. He’s shooting 48.1 percent from the field, 32 percent from three-point range and 66.7 percent from the free throw line.

    “Ausar is a special kid and has the potential to be a special player,” City Reapers coach Dave Leitao said. “He blocks shots, he runs the floor, he attacks, he’s obviously tremendously athletic, he can play on-ball, he can play off-ball, he’s shot the ball a whole lot better since he’s been here.”

    From the hours and hours spent in the gym to the praise from NBA greats, the Thompson Twins are making a name for themselves, but how do they want people to see them?

    “I think the most important thing when you talk about the Thompson twins is the mentality they have, how hard they work and how they want to get better every day ever since we were little,” Amen said.

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