No. 5: Ausar Thompson, Overtime Elite
Ausar and Amen Thompson have often been conflated as similar prospects throughout the draft process. That’s far from the case, as Amen is more of a lead ball-handler while Ausar has developed his wing skillset. So, while athletically they are almost identical players, their games are quite varied.
Ausar isn’t a plus shooter yet either, but he’s turned himself into a good cutter, wing defender, and transition threat, which makes him a more natural fit with the Trail Blazers. There’s still room for him to grow into a bigger role if he can tighten up his handle, but even now, he has more of what the Blazers are looking for than Amen:
Whether Ausar can turn his shot around is the ultimate X-factor of his development. There are some recent clips that seem to speak to time spent in the gym paying off, but until he is showing off a new shooting form or putting up consistent numbers from deep, he should still be considered a project player.
It wouldn’t be a perfect fit with Lillard and the current core for Portland, but pairing Ausar Thompson with Shaedon Sharpe would give the Blazers the most athletic and exciting wing duo that the NBA has seen since the Boston Celtics initially paired Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum in back-to-back drafts.