, , ,

Amen and Ausar Thompson are taking a unique path to the NBA with Overtime Elite, and have generated enough hype to currently be rated #3 and #4 on ESPN’s board.

Their selling point is straightforward: they are athletic 6’7 players who stuff the statsheet in a way similar to Andre Iguodala. But a direct statistical comparison to Iggy does not make sense, because at their age he was the best player on Arizona playing against major conference NCAA competition.

Overtime Elite plays against high level high school competition. The Thompsons’ team is 12-1 and they are the two best players in the league, but they are also college sophomore aged competing against high school competition. Given how steep the age curve is from ages 16-18 to 20, it is incredibly difficult to estimate how this compares to NCAA performance.

But let’s see how they compare to some of their peers, to get a feel for what they are going up against. They are currently 6th and 7th in scoring in the league, this is how their overall numbers compare to the top 5. For HS players recruiting rank is from 247sports:

Note that this minutes are not adjusted per minute or possession, and the Thompsons do play fewer minutes than these players which hurts their bulk output. And the Thompsons are clearly the best players of the bunch, as they do have a more well rounded output than most of these players while playing for the best team in the league.

But the downside is they are not competing against likely 2024 lottery picks. The top two scorers aren’t even ranked in the top 100 in the current high school senior class. Nobody is ranked in the top 25, and the highest ranked player Jayden Quaintance is a young sophomore who is 4.5 entire years younger than them.

As for the 18 year old players, it is plausible they are undervalued in recruiting and sneak into round 1. But for better or worse look like 2nd round/UDFA types with Quaintance being the one other serious prospect on this list.

From the #’s, the Thompsons appear to be clearly better than Quaintance, but not to a dramatic extent. Once you consider the gargantuan age gap at a steep part of the age curve, it should be fairly obvious that Quaintance is the best prospect in this league.

It is likely Quaintance is underrated at #30 on 247sports and #27 ESPN, and it is plausible that he is even the 3rd best prospect in 2025 class behind Cam Boozer and Cooper Flagg as this is highly impressive production against older players.

Conversely, it is worth pondering if two top 5 picks should be destroying this level of competition more extremely than this. Sharing touches is likely holding them back to some extent, but their minute totals are low enough such that only about half of their minutes should be together if rotations are staggered.

And we did get a brief glimpse of how a true star prospect performs in this league. Cam Boozer who is a week younger than Quaintance and 4.5 years younger than the Thompsons played two games against YNG Dreamerz who are 9-2 and Cold Hearts who are 4-7. The Thompsons’ City Reapers squad has played these teams collectively 5 times out of their 13 total games, and their only loss of the season came against YNG Dreamerz.

Boozer posted a couple of monster stat lines in both games, including 28/20/5 in a 14 point win vs the Dreamerz. Let’s average out his numbers between the two games and compare it with the Thompsons:

It’s a joke how dominant Boozer was. He had some slight turnover issues, but otherwise blows the Thompsons out of the water in spite of being relatively infant aged. Not only does he get more dunks and rebounds than them combined, but he also appears to be a much better shooter. Boozer 3/8 3P and 13/13 FT, which is a major area of struggle for the twins with Ausar making 24.3% 3P 62.4% FT and Amen 22.4% 3P 65.5% FT on the season.

Granted, it’s only two games. But if you had to pick two stars to build an OTE team around, and the choices were Boozer and Quaintance vs Amen and Ausar, that is a difficult choice. And it cannot be overstated how ridiculous it is that this is even close given the massive disparity in age.

As an aside– this is incredibly exciting for the 2026 draft. Cam Boozer continues to look like a GOAT-ish prospect. Even though he is much further away from being NBA ready which gives more time for things to go wrong, I would still pick him over Victor Wembanyama because he fits such a higher floor mold and it is difficult to recall a 15 year old ever showing this much promise. And with Cooper Flagg looking like a formidable #2, and a guy like Quaintance lurking on the fringes of the top 25. There is serious potential for 2026 to go down as the best draft ever if things go well.

Back to the Thompsons

It is not so thrilling that most of the guys they are beating up on are much younger + fringey prospects, and they aren’t clearly outclassing the actual prospects who are far younger than them.

Of course this does not mean that they cannot succeed in their own rite. The 2023 draft gets so weak after Wemby and Scoot, it is plausible that their OTE production translates better than expected and they turn out to justify top 4 selections in the draft. But it is not sharp to bet on this happening.

The best way to predict a prospect’s upside is with proven performance competing against their peers or more difficult competition. The Thompsons have yet to do anything but beat up on high school kids. Without any precedent of 20 year olds going from high school competition to NBA, it is incredibly risky to bet on them succeeding in the NBA, and betting on them in the top 5 is sheer lunacy.

Even without the competition concerns, there are concerns about their mold. They are listed at 6’7 with a 6’9 wingspan for Amen and 6’10 for Ausar. But if they officially measure at 6’6 with 6’9 wingspan, those are SG dimensions for two players who likely have broken shots. It would be easier to stomach these warts with confidence that they are actually good in their good areas, but it is impossible to be confident without having any real test.

In general, it would be more efficient for teams to pass on players who shied away from facing real competition. James Wiseman left the NCAA after 3 good games and has been a disaster for the Warriors. Shaedon Sharpe never played for UK, and while he is still very young the early NBA returns are not great as he has arguably been the worst player in the league as a rookie. And now instead of playing any proven route of NCAA, G-League, or international, the Thompsons have chosen to see if they can beat up 100 kindergarteners.

How Good Are the Thompsons?

How can anybody know? There is definitely some appeal there but there is no real way to estimate its magnitude with any accuracy.

More front offices should adopt the viewpoint if you aren’t going to prove yourself vs. real competition, you aren’t going on their draft board. Far too many GM’s get seduced by the appeal of the mystery box, when mystery boxes tend to have tickets to a crappy comedy club much more frequently than a boat.

And frankly it’s a waste of energy to even try to figure it out. You can watch every minute of every OTE game and learn absolutely nothing from seeing a twin blow by a 17 year old three star prospect and dunk on him. It simply is not relevant to ability to perform at the NBA level.

At this point, my inclination is to make a special “Don’t know, don’t care” tier for the Thompsons and save my analytical energy for actual prospects. Based on the hype to evidence of goodness ratio, it seems impossible they will be undervalued in the draft. So what difference does it make if they should actually be ranked 10th or 20th or 50th? I wouldn’t pick them and it isn’t necessary to watch low tier basketball to try and elaborate further.

The efficient thing to do is to cross them off draft boards and let somebody else take the gamble, while focusing on scouting the players who are actually performing against a fair level of competition.