In advance of the 2020 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops is evaluating prospects with a look at what the Atlanta Hawks might be considering from now until the selection process occurs. Dozens of prospects will be profiled in this space and, today, we break down New Zealand Breakers guard R.J. Hampton.
R.J. Hampton, like LaMelo Ball, is an American prospect who chose to play in Australia’s NBL rather than progressing through the traditional high school to college route. Hampton is an athletic, slashing guard who also projects as someone who can initiate offense for himself and others. Defensively, he has the size and athleticism to guard both guard spots. The 19-year old didn’t put up star numbers in the NBL, but the talent was evident.
ESPN ranks Hampton as the No. 14 player in the 2020 class, presumably leaving him with a solid chance to be selected in the lottery.
Over 30 percent of Hampton’s usage in the NBL was as a pick-and-roll ball handler, and while that sample is only 48 possessions, this appears to be something he can do at a decent clip. Generating .94 PPP (points per possession) in the NBL isn’t world-beating, but accounting for development and better teammates, he should be able to develop in this area. He has a nice pace and feel for the screen action, and has elite burst whenever it’s time to turn on the jets and go to the basket.
Hampton was more effective as a scorer than as a passer in pick-and-roll play, but there is reason for optimism at the next level. While he’s probably not someone who will ever be labeled as an elite or creative passer, he is more than capable when there is an opening. Given his athleticism and aggressiveness in terms of scoring off of a screen, he should be able to make the easy reads when defenses are forced to help on his drive.
The next highest area of usage for Hampton in NBL was spot-ups. He was below average efficiency in this area, shooting just 33.3 percent (13 for 39). There is, however, room for optimism here as well.
He has a decent looking shot, he may just need more practice and repetition in order to become a respectable catch-and-shoot option. The sample size being so small, it’s hard to really invest much in the numbers at this stage. The added spacing of the NBA, combined with more reps, will ideally lead to Hampton becoming an adequate spot-up option.
This will be important, as Hampton doesn’t profile as a lead option offensively despite his high volume of P&R ball handler possessions. He is probably better off as the second option, or co-starring in a lead guard role with one or two other guards, maybe not too different than how the Utah Jazz used Jordan Clarkson last season. Clarkson came off the bench behind Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell, but played big minutes and got big usage when he was on the floor.
The bulk of Hampton’s remaining usage resides in isolation and transition. He was not great in isolation, but the sample size is very small (18 possessions). He was a little better in transition, but with just 37 possessions in this area, there is not a ton of data there either. In theory, he should be a dangerous transition player due to his speed and burst in the open floor.
Overall offensive overview
- Pick and roll ball handler with a score-first mindset
- Needs to further develop his ability to read defense as a pick-and-roll passer
- Should develop into respectable catch-and-shoot option off the ball as a combo guard
- Big time athlete, burst should produce plenty of highlights (posters)
- Ideal fit would be with another guard who can account for high usage
Defensively, Hampton profiles as someone who will spend most of his time as the point of attack defender. While he is 6’5, he does not currently play with much physicality and his length is likely best used on smaller players. He struggles to get through screens at this stage, which is what led to him being one of the worst pick-and-roll defenders at his position in all of the NBL.
His 6’7 wingspan leaves a little optimism that he can slide over to wings if he can gain some strength. Overall on this end, Hampton simply needs to mature.
He is not the best rotator in terms of team defense, and veteran players were able to bully him all over the court. He is not bad to the point that you worry about him being not worthy of playing, but a lot of improvements need to be made on this end before he’s ready to aid a team trying to play winning basketball.
Ideally, Hampton would be able to become more physical and more aware of the overall sense of what teams are trying to do on the floor. When he’s locked in at the point of attack, he was actually decent. He has quick feet, and his burst/length leave him positions to make plays. However, he can get lost easily when he’s not at the point of attack, and often winds up giving up easy baskets off of cuts/screens.
Overall defensive overview
- Profiles as a point of attack defender, might not be much versatility unless he gains marginal strength
- Needs to be better within team scheme
- Needs to be more locked in off the ball
- 6’7 wingspan inspires optimism that he could be a multi-position defender long term
- Overall just hoping he can be a neutral on defense
Fit with Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta is neither in the projected range to select Hampton, nor presumably interested in his archetype enough to make a big swing on him. The rumblings, as of now, consist of guys like Issac Okoro, Devin Vassell, Deni Avdija, Patrick Williams, Tyrese Haliburton etc. Of those, the only player who would also be given the ‘combo’ guard designation would be Haliburton, who is consensus ranked a few spots above Hampton.
It would be a surprise to say the least if Hampton found his way to Atlanta, though it is possible in a trade-down scenario. Look for him to go somewhere in the late-lottery to mid-first round on Wednesday night. Stay tuned.