Why the Spurs May Prefer Ausar Thompson Over Amen Thompson

Ausar Thompson is one of the most fascinating prospects in the 2023 NBA Draft. As is the case with his twin brother Amen Thompson, it’s very difficult to project exactly what he’ll be in the NBA — but the possible outcomes will be intriguing to the San Antonio Spurs and every other team in the lottery.

Whispers around the league indicate that the Spurs are high on the Thompson twins — and it’s not clear if San Antonio prefers Ausar or Amen. Currently, it’s expected that Amen will be drafted before Ausar. However, that’s not set in stone. Despite being twins, the two prospects are very different players and will likely end up playing different positions.

Ausar Thompson’s Strengths

When watching his tape, the first thing you notice is Thompson’s fantastic athleticism. While he’s not quite as athletic as Amen (who might be the most athletic basketball player on the planet), Ausar definitely qualifies as an elite athlete. He can run, jump and he’s exceedingly shifty — especially for a player who is 6-foot-7 and 218 pounds.

The 20-year-old already looks like he could step into the league and be a plus defender right away. He gives a reliable amount of effort on that end, reads passing lanes really well and has a natural court sense that allows him to place himself right in the middle of the action. Additionally, Thompson has all the physical attributes needed to become a lockdown individual defender.

Offensively, Thompson has some tools to work with even though he’s still raw on that end. He’s a good passer with expansive court vision. His shooting mechanics have gotten a lot better over the course of the last two years and, as a result, his percentages are improving. 

While Thompson isn’t yet a reliable finisher, he passes the eye-test as a player who should eventually figure out how to score at the rim on a consistent basis. 

Areas of Concern for Ausar Thompson

Much like Amen, the questionable competition level Ausar played against in the Overtime Elite is something that will frighten NBA teams. How much was his impact inflated by playing in the OTE instead of going the traditional college route? That’s something that will only be clear in hindsight.

Despite Thompson’s noteworthy improvements, shooting remains an area of concern. His touch in the lane isn’t good and his outside shot is a work in progress. Ausar is a better shooter than Amen but he has a lot to work on before he’d even be a league average three-point shooter.

Speaking of Amen, Ausar doesn’t have the playmaking upside of his twin brother. He’s a limited ball-handler and he’s uncomfortable passing on the move. As a result, while Amen is likely a future point guard, Ausar is likely a future wing.

A Scout’s View: Ausar Thompson’s Fit on the Spurs

“That’d be a great place for [Ausar] to grow,” said a Western Conference scout when asked about Thompson getting drafted by the Spurs. “He has talent, he just needs a safe environment. I don’t have him graded as having star potential but he can be a dynamic game-changer in the right environment.” 

Final Thoughts on the Spurs Potentially Drafting Ausar Thompson

Drafting a Thompson twin is going to take a healthy amount of chutzpah. They’re both talented but they both come with their fair share of question marks.

Picking between Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson is not a simple decision. Amen clearly has the higher ceiling due to his otherworldly athleticism and his playmaking ability. However, since Amen is the worse shooter and the worse defender, he also has the lower floor.

While I wouldn’t classify Ausar as a safe pick, he’s surely a safer pick than Amen. Ausar should at least be able to fall back on his defense and his improving jumpshot. Thus, when it’s time to make a decision, the choice is either going the boom-or-bust route with Amen or going the safer route with Ausar while sacrificing possible superstar outcomes.

Personally, I think the Spurs would favor Amen due to his higher ceiling … but Ausar is certainly an exciting enough prospect to pick if the Wembanyamas and Scoots are off the board.