The 2020 NBA Draft has turned into a marathon for franchises, players and even the media that covers the process. We have now hit that final stage where you find one last gear and try to finish strong.
Over the next week, the NBA is opening up Zoom prospect interviews to 29 of the top names in the draft. On Wednesday, eight rolled through, including R.J. Hampton, one of the players slated to go around the 12th pick where the Kings are selecting.
According to Hampton, he spoke to the Kings via Zoom a few weeks back. While he didn’t elaborate on the call itself, he did speak on the potential of playing in Sacramento.
“Playing with the Kings, playing with De’Aaron [Fox], one of the fastest guys in the NBA and me bringing that speed and athleticism to the backcourt, I think that’s a great opportunity,” Hampton said.
Before choosing to spend the year playing professionally in Australia, Hampton was considered a top tier prospect. The experiment didn’t go as planned, but there is still a lot to like about his potential moving forward.
One of the fastest players in the draft from one end of the court to the other, Hampton might be a perfect long-term fit next to Fox. He’ll need time to develop, but his ability to play both guard positions, as well as his size and athleticism are intriguing.
It’s very possible that Hampton falls to the Kings at 12. If the team decides to reshuffle their guard lineup, he makes a lot of sense. If they keep their current backcourt group, Hampton might have to work for a year or two as an understudy before playing major minutes.
Listed at 6-foot-5, 180 pounds, Hampton posted 8.8 points, 2.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds in 20.6 minutes per game for the New Zealand Breakers. He struggled with his 3-point shot, knocking down 29.5 percent from long range, but he can break teams down with an elite ability to change speed and direction.
In addition to Hampton, Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith said he has a call scheduled with Sacramento later this week. Perhaps the best pure shooter in this year’s draft, Nesmith knocked down an incredible 52.2 percent from 3-point range during his sophomore season on 8.2 attempts per game.
At 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, Nesmith projects as a small forward with major scoring potential. He plays extremely well off the ball and has upside as a defender as well.
It’s a wide-open field for the No. 12 pick in this year’s draft. The Kings will have plenty of option and while there might not be a star level player when they select, there should be a handful of prospects that can improve the team.