The Washington Wizards have the No. 8 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series of draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...
2023 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Profile: Ausar Thompson
Team: Overtime Elite (City Reapers)
Position: Shooting guard/Small forward
2022/23 stats: 16 G,16.3 ppg, 6.1 apg, 6.9 rpg, 2.7 spg, 1.3 bpg, 48.1 FG% (6.0/12.5), 29.8 3PT% (1.1/3.8), 66.2 FT% (3.1/4/7)
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 6th, Ringer 6th, Athletic 9th, ESPN 6th, NBADraft.net 7th, Bleacher Report 8th
5 things to know:
- Thompson and his twin brother, Amen, are both projected to be high lottery picks this year with Amen getting a slight edge in the eyes of most mock draft writers. Amen could be off the board by pick No. 5, whereas Ausar could get picked somewhere between picks No. 6 and 9. Either way, both twins offer teams the potential for a generational talent. Amen plays point guard, with Ausar playing on the wing. Both brothers played for the Overtime Elite for the past two seasons -- a professional league for 16-20-year-olds based in Atlanta -- deciding to forego their college eligibility.
- Ausar Thompson's biggest strengths lie in his athleticism and defense. He's got a 6-foot-7 frame on the wing with tremendous bounce and a quick burst. Think early-career Ben Simmons. Thompson's most immediate impact in the NBA will likely be as an on-ball defender from the point of attack and with a 7-foot wingspan, you can easily see why offenses try their hardest to get the ball out of his way. With his supreme athleticism and his swift movement, he's a good bet to be a good-to-great defender in the NBA at all three levels on the floor.
Ausar Thompson's defense is approaching generational. Creates defensive stats with ease, is hard to shake, and his athleticism + length combo will allow him to guard almost any position when he adds strength in the NBA
Explosive shot blocker pic.twitter.com/O09UdR7Xkx
— Mavs/Magic Draft (@MavsDraft) March 29, 2023
- Offensively, Thompson's biggest strengths are his creation and driving ability. When he gets the opportunity to run and orchestrate the offense, even as a wing, he has a knack for getting past his primary defender and gliding into the lane with a quick first step. Once there, he's a solid finisher at the rim where he uses all of his 6-foot-7 frame to rise up above defenders. Thompson is reminiscent of a bigger Shai Gilgeous-Alexander when it comes to his knack for penetrating down low and making opposing defenses change tactics to compensate. He's also a slick passer, take a look:
Regardless of whether Ausar Thompson is a "point guard", his passing is going to make a positive impact at the next level
He's great as a connective passer within sets & can make the right read quickly
Read more about Ausar in our scouting report here: https://t.co/nlW4Ppssnv pic.twitter.com/ijB4Ecj6hp
— The Box and One (@TheBoxAndOne_) March 14, 2023
- The biggest downside to Thompson's game is his shooting. His overall field goal percentage is solid (48.1%), but that's because of his ability to drive and finish near the rim. When it comes to midrange/outside shooting, he leaves much to be desired. He takes almost four 3-pointers a game, but knocks them down at a sub-30% clip. His 66.2% free-throw percentage isn't mouth-watering either. Thompson will need to improve his spot-up shooting ability to be a true threat on offense outside the paint. That's a tough task, but it's not to say it hasn't happened before. Kawhi Leonard had a very similar outlook as he made his transition from San Diego State to the NBA, for example.
-Thompson is, plain and simple, an effective player. Since he joined Overtime Elite two years ago, he's won each of the league's four available MVP awards over that span (two regular season awards, two finals MVP awards). Yes, that's even with his more highly-touted brother Amen playing alongside him. He's been lauded for his work ethic and motor by multiple people within OTE circles, so his ceiling could continue to rise as the draft draws closer.
Fit with Wizards:
It's truly a toss-up whether or not Thompson will be available to the Wizards if they don't move up from the No. 8 spot. As it stands right now, it's likely he'll get picked either sixth or seventh overall but that's by no means a guarantee. If Washington is lucky enough to snag Thompson, his versatility on the wing could provide some long-term playmaking alongside the team's core.
Washington is already pretty stacked on the wing with Corey Kispert, Kyle Kuzma and Deni Avdija taking the vast majority of minutes. Kuzma's contract situation is up in the air, though, as he is likely to opt out of the final year of his contract and seek a more lucrative long-term deal. Thompson could potentially provide some insurance on the wing for the Wizards if Kuzma were to land elsewhere.
The Wizards are actually deeper on the wing than they are at point guard. However, if they do go for wing depth and take a player with a sky-high ceiling like Thompson, his defense would be the biggest upside to his fit in D.C. Wes Unseld Jr. mentioned at the draft lottery that "wing depth" and "positional size" are two factors the Wizards would like to add over the summer.
Thompson could help the Wizards immediately on the defensive end, bolstering their perimeter and providing disruption at all three levels. He's adept at turning defense into offense, and since the Wizards want to play with more pace heading into 2023-24, he'd fit right into that mantra as well. It'd be intriguing to see Thompson, who is excellent at moving without the ball and exploiting passing lanes on backdoor cuts, meshes with the likes of Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma. Corey Kispert was Washington's best off-ball cutter this past season, so having two players who can be threats without the ball in their hands like that could be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
However, Washington needs to improve their three-point shooting, and Thompson wouldn't be able to help them in that quest -- at least not at first. His shooting form itself is a bit unique (see the slo-mo video below), so the Wizards' player development staff would have to work with him to improve his shooting in order to make him a true threat from the outside.
— No Ceilings (@NoCeilingsNBA) June 5, 2023