Assessing R.J. Hampton In An NBL Preseason Game
October 4, 2019
by Alan Lu
I decided to watch New Zealand’s 6-5 guard R.J. Hampton play in an NBL preseason game against the Sydney Kings that took place on September 26th, as I was able to see this with thanks to Facebook via NBL. Hampton is a very athletic combo guard that could be a likely lottery pick in the 2020 draft, and he also scored 18 points, and had 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals in his team’s loss in this match. I wanted to examine his performance to see how it lines up against LaMelo Ball’s near triple-double from a few days earlier, and to get a better feel for Hampton’s skill set. Here are my thoughts on how R.J. Hampton played, as well as how his game may translate to the NBA. For those that are interested in the box score of this game, here is the link.
R.J. Hampton is a very good scorer off the dribble. He is a speedy scorer that has a great first step to the hoop, and he can quickly score with either hand when he takes the ball all the way to the basket. He’ll go hard to the hoop, and he can score on runners, as well as draw tons of fouls upon his opponents to often get to the free throw line. He also managed to go left around screen to score on a high-flying two-handed dunk early in the third quarter. However, there are times where he will try too hard to try to draw fouls on defenders, and he also can go in a little too fast and out of control, which can lead him to miss shots in traffic.
He will also tend to push the ball up the court off of defensive rebounds and steals, as he can draw free throws on strong drives in transition. On the down side, Hampton seems to prefer pulling up to take contested pull-up, mid-range jumpers far too often, as he generally had trouble knocking those down when his superb foot-speed could have allowed him to quickly get to the basket instead. There was one mid-range jumper when he missed initially, but then he caught his own miss to make a quick mid-range shot off of an offensive rebound the next time.
Hampton showed a decent ability to knock down jumpers overall, and there was one occasion where he was able to use a quick crossover and step back move to knock down a nifty three-point shot from beyond the arc. He also can quickly cut to the hoop to get open around the basket, but his teammates would not look for him when he would opt to do so.
Also, Hampton showed off solid playmaking skills. Hampton is a very good passer in transition, as he has great foot-speed to push the ball up the floor, and he can quickly find teammates out on the break. He also throws solid interior passes to find roll men on the move, and he will find open shooters to set up scores for them. He tends to make very good reads on the court, and he sees the floor very well. His lone turnover came late in the game when he was called for stepping out of bounds when driving baseline, though he appeared to have been bumped on that play.
He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball. Hampton would leap up to get numerous defensive boards, and he also would tend to bring the ball up the floor. He also was able to get an offensive rebound, and Hampton would aggressively go for balls to help his team on the boards.
Hampson also played adequate defense in this game. He is a very quick, rangy defender that can get numerous steals and blocks on the floor. He was able to run back to intercept an interior pass on the break to get one steal, and he also ran in to jump on a loose ball to get another. Plus, he would rotate quickly to block jumpers to teammates due to possessing great quickness, footwork, and timing, and he also swatted a three-point shot out of bounds late in the game. He will also deflect passes to disrupt opponents from getting their passes through, and he also was will contest jumpers to force misses.
However, he can tend to be unfocused defensively. Sometimes he won’t get back on defense, which can put his teammates in compromising situations and lead his team to allow scores in transition. He also can tend to get caught in no man’s land as he tends to struggle to pick up opponents when defending screens, and he also can tend to be late on his rotations. Another time, he bit on a pump fake, which allowed a drive that set up an interior pass that led to a score around the basket.
In general, R.J. Hampton is a very talented player that could end up being one of the best players in the 2020 draft. He is a speedy, scoring combo guard that can get to the basket at will, and he is a long, rangy defender that can cover plenty of ground on that end of the floor. He will need to improve his shot selection and be a more focused defender on a consistent basis, but he could end up being a top five pick in 2020.