What do we make of Overtime Elite?
The program has recently inked some elite prospects. Yet this pathway to the pros is still largely unpaved and unproven, providing an extra challenge for draft scouts
Anytime there is a disruption to the status quo, it takes a few years and draft cycles to really figure out how impactful the changes are. There are tons of changes in the pre-draft cycle right now, from NIL money being introduced to collegiate athletics to the G-League pathways program. Options are more fruitful and wide-ranging than ever for top prospects. We still don’t know every way in which these options are impacting the draft cycle.
One of the more unknown pathways is the Overtime Elite program, now entering year two of existence. OTE is an alternative to college and to high school, where prospects can receive compensation while playing and training full-time under the guidance of former NBA and high-major coaches. The appeal is pretty clear: get strong training, workout with other top prospects year-round, have the media backing of the Overtime brand, still be eligible to play in college (depending on how the agreement is structured) or make money while training, and have it feel like an elite experience.
The first year of OTE’s experiment was hit-or-miss. They established themselves as a legitimate threat to bring in top-tier talent. The multiple team model created internal competition, and the setup of their facilities in Atlanta are top-notch. But the brand has struggled with making film or statistics accessible to the outside during the season, meaning a heavily-controlled narrative on their doing excludes organic growth of their prospects. The lack of clarified competition definitely hinders the assessment of prospects more than college or G-League pathways, and there doesn’t appear to be a tidy long-term solution to that problem.
Most concerning, year one did not produce a draft pick. Jean Montero came in with first-round hype in many draft circles, then went undrafted before signing with the New York Knicks. Dom Barlow had his fans but also went undrafted. Kok Yat also struck out and ultimately returned to Overtime Elite for an additional season, this time with an NBA out in his contract. That in itself will be a unique pathway to monitor.
Next year’s crop of talent is different. The Thompson Twins are lauded as lottery picks by many and have looked impressive this summer playing in other pro leagues. It’s easy to see the appeal of the twins based on their athletic prowess alone. At 6’7” and with elite leaping ability, they can be imposing two-way forces.