2023 Mock Draft 2.0: Spurs roll the dice, Hornets win Wembanyama sweepstakes

Brandon Miller - San Diego State v Alabama
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5. 169. . Overtime Elite City Reapers. . . Amen Thompson. player

Amen Thompson is very frequently selected as high as 3rd overall in most mock drafts you’ll see circulating online, and he certainly has the upside to warrant such a high selection. Amen will likely be a top-five athlete immediately upon entry into the NBA with his blitzing first step being his most impressive and identifiable athletic trait. He, more than anyone else in his draft class, makes blowing by a defender look nearly effortless.

Being that Amen is also likely the most talented playmaker in his class, his upside as a primary advantage creator is undeniably high. Theoretically, when he’s unable to finish at the rim or pull up from the midrange, opposing defenses will have already collapsed on him to the point that Amen should be able to make a play for a wide-open teammate. As I alluded to earlier, though, it isn’t some foregone conclusion that this is what will play out for Amen in reality, particularly if he struggles to score early in his career.

Because of his freakish athleticism, Amen is frequently compared to Ja Morant. While Morant uses that athleticism to get to the rim, however, it’s his otherworldly touch (with both hands) that allows him to finish “through the trees,” so to speak, and find success as a scorer despite average to below-average distance shooting. While I wouldn’t necessarily assert that Amen has bad touch, or even less-than-good touch, it was evident that he struggled to finish around the rim more than he probably should have given his size—particularly in the half-court. Considering these struggles also came against highly questionable (and younger) competition, this leaves me skeptical of Amen’s touch at best and full-on concerned at worst.

With that in mind, roster fit is going to be very important for Amen early in his career. More specifically, a roster where he’s surrounded by high-level shooters and shot-creators will give Amen more space to operate in the paint and develop better touch around the rim. The Houston Rockets’ roster, featuring the likes of Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr., strikes me as one of the teams best suited to add a primary creator like Amen Thompson.