A top-shelf athlete who contributes amply on both sides of the ball, Ausar Thompson is bound to outperform expectations for which ever team drafts him.
The NBA Draft is often much more of a guessing game than NBA scouts would probably like to admit. There are so many unknown variables at play, no matter how deeply researched and studied a prospect might be.
Ausar Thompson is one of the more fascinating individual prospects in a while. First off, he’s not playing in college, nor is he playing high school ball. He’s not playing overseas either. He’s playing for the Overtime City Reapers, a small-time pro team local to Atlanta, Georgia. He’s facing a low level of competition in a league that very few regular hoop-heads are watching.
To make matters more interesting, he’s sharing the floor with Amen Thompson, his even more highly touted identical twin. They look very similar watching from a distance and it has been cited by the best in the business as a legitimate complicating factor for talent evaluators.
Despite his unique circumstances, Thompson projects as a lottery pick — maybe even a top-five pick if the right team latches on. A mystifying athlete who can appear to bend space and time, Thompson’s blend of physical gifts and basketball intellect is fairly uncommon at 20 years old.
Ausar Thompson NBA Draft bio
Weight: 204 pounds
Birth date: Jan. 30, 2023
Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Offensive roles: Slasher, connective point guard
Defensive Role: Switchable stopper, off-ball disruptor
Projected Draft Range: Top 10
NBA Draft highlights
Ausar Thompson is on the shortlist of best athletes in the draft, right neck-and-neck with his brother. The dude floats. He can detonate above the rim, or stay suspended in midair for a difficult finesse finish around traffic. He explodes downhill with an unstoppable first step and he can change up speeds just as fast, frequently keeping his defender off-balance.
He’s commonly pitched as a wing, but Thompson should receive no shortage of playmaking opportunities wherever he lands in the NBA. He’s one of the draft’s fastest processors, making lightning-quick reads and rocketing impressive passes from all over the court. He’s great at crashing the glass and leading the charge in transition with quick hit-ahead passes, or simply by out-running the defense going the other way.
Thompson should be comfortable working out of the pick-and-roll at the next level. He’s maybe not ready to be a full-time point guard, but he can definitely complement and accentuate other point guards.
What should make NBA teams salivate, however, is Thompson’s ability to contribute on both ends. He looks like a game-changing wing defender — a legitimate stopper at the point of attack who can also roam and use his athleticism to blow up passing lanes or protect the rim’s weak side.
Thompson has made noticeable strides as a jump shooter, especially spotting up, but he’s not going to reach his NBA ceiling if the jumper wavers. Teams will have to respect Thompson’s pull-up jumper eventually, especially if he wants to become a go-to option. For the season in OTE, he shot 66.7 percent from the charity stripe, which is not the greatest indicator.
While he has played more wing possessions than his brother, Ausar will likely experience similar struggles with his adjustment from OTE basketball to NBA basketball. He will need to polish his off-ball offense and he will have to adjust to better-prepared defenses and more athletically approximate defenders.
Ausar has spent the past year flying above just about everyone in his orbit. The NBA is a different ballgame, and it will be fascinating to see how quickly he can make the necessary changes. That said, we are talking about a seriously intelligent player who still, even by NBA standards, will pop off the screen athletically. So consider me optimistic.
Thompson appears to be floating around the third tier of lottery prospects on most big boards right now. Wembanyama is the only logical resident of tier one, and frankly, most talent evaluators seem to have settled on Scoot Henderson as the sole resident of tier two.
Comparisons to his twin will be impossible to avoid, and right now, Amen is definitely the more favored prospect. The gap isn’t huge, however, and individual teams could always be swayed by Ausar, a more proven defender with slightly better shooting numbers.
Given the combined appeal of his athleticism, basketball IQ, and obvious two-way potential, it’s hard not to place Ausar in the top end of tier three (maybe even on the precipice of tier two). He’s harder to watch than his collegiate counterparts and he won’t have the big, storybook tournament games to brag about, but we are talking about the OTE Finals MVP. Not sure that matters, but Thompson excelled against the competition in front of him.