Ceiling/floor analysis is tricky. Really, we’re talking about “realistic” ceilings and floors. Even that’s not helpful. Who is the authority on realism? The Toni Morrison of draft discourse? OK, fine - Morrison was a magic realist. Yet, that might be a more appropriate analog when discussing Amen Thompson. When you watch this kid play, sometimes, it feels like you’re watching something that defies reality.
Thompson’s potential is limitless. Yet, we’re not here to talk about his long-term outlook. We’re here to talk about his upcoming 2023-24 season. This year, Thompson will have the illustrious role of backup point guard. What should we expect from him?
THE AMEN THOMPSON AGENDA IS THRIVING ‼️ pic.twitter.com/AqrXJAthNo— V̷a̷t̷o̷r̷ (@VatorSports) October 6, 2023
A lot of razzle and a healthy proportion of dazzle as well. Watching Thompson is going to be different than watching Jalen Green or Jabari Smith Jr. He’s not going to be leading the team in usage, or struggling to find his footing as a play finisher alongside the least point guard-y starting point guard in the NBA. He’s going to be a backup point guard.
Tussling with second units should help Thompson avoid the pitfalls that Green and Smith Jr. faced. If he’s subject to the same “according to metrics, this is the worst player in the NBA” problems, it will be an actual problem. There won’t be any context to justify it.
That isn’t going to happen. That’s not to say there won’t be bumps in Amen’s road. Defenses will pack the paint. Thompson will miss shots and turn the ball over as a result. At the same time, he should run absolutely roughshod over some backup point guards.
Ultimately, I don’t expect gaudy basic counting stats from Thompson on the year. He’s just not a player that’s going to hunt them in the first place. Moreover, with the Rockets seemingly operating under a win-now edict, Thompson may only play 20ish minutes per game. Even that might be generous. We should expect him to get 12-16 as Fred VanVleet’s primary backup. Will Ime Udoka run him at the three with (some of) the starters for stretches? In theory, that makes sense, but Tari Eason, Reggie Bullock and Jae’Sean Tate need to eat as well.
Let’s not worry about it, OK? Sit back and enjoy the ride. There’s more than one developmental path. LaMelo Ball started his NBA career on the bench. In time, Thompson will earn his strides.
If he can develop a jump shot, his ceiling is unlimited.