Every year, playoff season doubles as NBA mock draft season for the large number of teams that don’t have a trophy to play for. Discussions about the top prospects (this year, top prospect, singular) and best fits dominate the non-postseason league landscape.
The 2023 NBA Draft Lottery odds are official, as is the remainder of the first-round order. Now it’s just a matter of watching the lottery itself and going through the pre-draft process until the big night on June 22.
The Portland Trail Blazers have the fifth-best odds to land the No. 1 overall selection which, until the top 14 are officially set, places them at No. 5 in mock drafts. If their pick does land fifth (or any number other than one), there’s a good chance it’s traded and most of the draft conversation in Portland quickly comes to an end.
Regardless of which team earns that fifth selection, though, the NBA world’s draft experts are reaching an incorrect consensus. And somehow, at least to this point, they keep doing it.
Experts are repeating the same mistake in nearly every 2023 NBA Mock Draft
Michael Scotto of HoopsHype recently completed a useful exercise, scouring the internet and combining a number of mock drafts to reach a consensus about which prospects are most commonly selected with a respective pick.
HoopsHype used 10 mock drafts – ESPN, The Athletic, Bleacher Report, The Ringer, NBADraft.net, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, Yahoo, SB Nation, and USA TODAY’s For The Win – as well as input from NBA executives to create an “aggregate mock draft.”
Unsurprisingly, Victor Wembanyama was the overall favorite at No. 1. G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson was the consensus at No. 2, while Alabama wing Brandon Miller was most commonly selected at No. 3.
Overtime Elite guard Amen Thompson landed fourth, and with Portland’s hypothetical No. 5 selection, most mock drafts agreed on Amen’s brother, Ausar, as the pick.
Considering Ausar the fifth-best prospect in the 2023 class is a mistake. Even regarding the other Thompson twin as the fourth-best player is a bad call.
The hypothetical skills Ausar would bring to an NBA rotation are enticing – length, athleticism, explosion, and smothering defense. The problem is that all these traits are just that: hypothetical.
You could argue that every prospect’s traits are hypothetical until they prove it at the NBA level, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But the Thompson’s traits go beyond what would be considered the “usual hypothetical.”
Neither are great shooters, though Ausar shows more promise in terms of developing a decent outside shot. The biggest issue lies in the fact that he played with Overtime Elite – a league for 16- to 20-year-olds outside of college and the G League. Ausar averaged 16 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block – an attractive stat line, minus the fact that it came against inferior competition.
He also maxed out as one of the oldest prospects in OE at 20 years old. One NBA executive told Scotto, “The Thompson twins are 20 years old playing against guys 16 and 17 years old. It’s tough to trust them.
“I don’t like their shooting forms at all,” the exec added.
Compare Ausar to Villanova wing Cam Whitmore, for example (who we have as the No. 5 prospect on our Blazers Big Board 2.0), who averaged 12.5 points and 5 rebounds on 48 percent shooting in the Big East at Villanova last season – significantly tougher competition.
Whitmore has an NBA body at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds. Ausar is the same height but 30 pounds lighter.
Whitmore won’t turn 19 until after the draft. Ausar is already 20.
There’s no denying that Ausar has legitimate NBA traits with his athleticism and defensive ability. He is, however, the definition of a boom-or-bust prospect, and his inferior level of competition and lack of a pro-ready offensive skill set have him leaning toward bust.
Somehow, though, the majority of draft experts at those 10 sites listed above are repeatedly looking at him as a top-5 prospect and ignoring the red flags. Taking Ausar, or either of the Thompson twins that high, would be a mistake.