Team: New Zealand Breakers
Age: 19 (February 7th, 2001)
Weight: 188 lbs
The first thing that stands out is his athleticism and length for a combo guard. He’s a great leaper off one or two feet, and is a threat at the rim. He’s got very good touch with his right hand. He’s smart, especially with euro’s knowing to manipulate the defender and blow right by him. Hampton’s mostly effective in transition and he’s always gonna run if he sees an opportunity. He’s a more than willing passer. This allows him to make good decisions generally on the break. His handles are fairly decent as he’s got a good feel for when to use crossovers and hesitations and does a good job of setting it up and changing speeds.
His jump shot mechanics aren’t promising yet. His upper body mechanics are fairly capable. The problem is his feet are so close together, his balance is terrible most times, which makes for an inconsistent shot. The good thing is that he’s aware of his weaknesses as a shooter. He knows he needs to have a wider stance as he admitted he needs to keep his feet “shoulder width apart.” He seems fairly intelligent in the film room, which is why there is potential he can be a reliable 3 point shooter. On the defensive end, he has the length to potentially be a disruptor and has shown flashes of good instincts. Generally, he’s very good with knowing the scouting report as well and knowing how he needs to defend a player.
FIrst thing to address for any guard is the jump shot. He shot a miserable 29.5% from 3 and 67.9% from the free throw line. As mentioned previously, his base was incredibly bad. His feet looked like he was a penguin as you can see in the photograph I used above. This didn’t improve at all as the year went on even though he knew it was an issue. This makes me question his work ethic slightly, because he showed no real growth. As a playmaker, he has a long ways to go from being the main facilitator of an offense. Overseas, he got sped up a lot. It was evident he wasn’t thinking quickly enough as in the film room, he said everything right. He pointed out his mistakes and what he should’ve done. Part of this is continuing to develop reads, but just to also learning to not panic and play at his own pace sometimes. As a driver, he needs to continue working on his left, but it’s definitely not a significant issue and will definitely improve over time. On the defensive end, he got caught standing upright way too often. This allowed guards to either blow right by him or push him off his spot. Off the ball, he also wasn’t much better. Something he needs to improve on is avoiding screens as he does a poor job of getting around screens. Then when he gets hit by the screen, he needs to do a better job of consistently working his way back into the play, whether it’s picking up the roller or getting a late contest on the driver.
Hampton has a lot of upside for a late first round pick as a combo guard. There are a lot of “what ifs” though as his playmaking, jump shot, and defense all still have a ways to go. Now defensively, if he can just stay motivated and buy in on that end, he can be a plus defender with his wingspan and athleticism. With the jump shot, he needs to regain the same confidence he had in highschool and widen his base. The biggest thing to look at in pre draft workouts will be if he’s widened his base, because he knows it’s an issue at this point. He admitted it in an interview over 5 months ago. If he hasn’t changed it at this point, I’m not sure how to help him. Then his inability to be a primary distributor makes him limited to playing more off the ball. Hampton should get better in most, if not, all 3 of these areas, but he is going to need time. It’s likely we don’t discover the type of player he is until year 3 or 4. Despite this, generally smart people figure things out and he is smart, but the game was so fast for him overseas and it’s only going to get faster in the NBA. In terms of fit, the teams that should be looking into him are the Thunder (25), Knicks (27), and Wizards (37). The Thunder would be most beneficial for Hampton’s growth as CP3 was able to mentor Dennis Schroeder and Schroeder was able to slow the game down, but yet still pick his moments. Dennis can be that type of mentor for Hampton. Regardless, whoever selects Hampton needs to be patient, but yet make sure he has the right support system. He needs strict, but yet an organization that believes in him. Generally smart people figure things out, so I wouldn’t bet against him in the long run, but there are just too many question marks at this point to have him as anything more than a project.
Article Written by Bradley Patten
Stats found on Basketball Reference (https://www.basketball-reference.com/international/players/rj-hampton-1.html)
1st photo credit to Justin Ford – USA Today (https://www.orlandopinstripedpost.com/2020/4/19/21217834/2020-nba-draft-rj-hampton-scouting-report)
2nd photo found on The Athletic (https://theathletic.com/2093647/2020/10/01/vecenie-why-im-buying-r-j-hampton-stock-after-changes-to-his-shot-mechanics/)