- This is the seventh installment of a series breaking down the potential selections for the Sacramento Kings with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
The NBA Draft is just over a month away and the process is heating up. Sacramento Kings GM Monte McNair added three new front office executives earlier this week which should help bolster his scouting department.
What is McNair looking for as his first act of running his own team? That’s anyone’s guess.
The Kings need depth at forward, a long term solution at the five, and they could also use another complementary piece in the backcourt. But McNair could completely shake up the roster and then all bets are off.
Two weeks ago we honed in on Tyrese Haliburton as a potential prospect for the Kings, but the chance of him dropping all the way to No. 12 is slim. In this week’s breakdown, we’ll look at R.J. Hampton, who spent last season playing for the New Zealand Breakers of the ABL.
Hampton isn’t as refined as Haliburton, but he may have a higher ceiling than the Iowa State prospect.
Here is a look at how Hampton grades out as a prospect and some thoughts on whether he would work for the Kings when the draft rolls around next month.
Stats: 8.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 40.7% FG, 29.5% 3-point FG
Age: 19 Height: 6-foot-5 Weight: 185 Wingspan: 6-foot-7
Long and lean with an explosive first step, Hampton has a body that is tailor-made for an NBA combo guard. He has a variety of skills that should translate directly to the NBA game and he’s slated to go anywhere between 10-20 in the upcoming draft.
Take the numbers and throw them out the window. Hampton seemed overwhelmed playing against grown men in Australia as an 18-year old. He scored in double-figures just six times in his 15 games and often struggled to get on the floor, logging 20 or more minutes just nine times.
Hampton’s speed, quickness and ability to change direction is special. There are very few NBA players that can outrun him in a flat out foot race and he has no problem scoring above the rim.
He can get stronger, but he has great size for an NBA combo guard and an intriguing skill set to work with. Hampton has a solid crossover, an explosive first step and he will be tough to stay in front of.
While his handles are a little loose, he has solid potential as a secondary ball-handler and distributor. In Australia, he averaged a 4.2-to-2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio per 36 minutes and he showed major improvement in his ability to read defenses and make plays for others as he progressed through the season.
His field goal percentage wasn’t where you would like to see, but the mechanics are there. Hampton projects as a solid three-level scorer with major upside. He’s particularly dangerous attacking the rim and he has a soft touch around the basket.
Despite playing against grown men in Australia, he showed the ability to go inside and fight for rebounds. While his defense leaves plenty to be desired, he has quick hands and will likely be a player that will get plenty of steals.
Hampton didn’t shoot particularly well in his short stint in Australia, especially from long range, but there is hope. He has solid mechanics and balance, but he’ll need reps in the gym. His shot selection isn’t the greatest either, but again, the sample size is small and he’s a young player.
As a passer, Hampton has all the tools, but he’s often out of control and relies heavily on the jump pass. He’s not a pure point guard and shouldn’t be viewed as such, but he can create for himself and others off the dribble as a secondary distributor.
On the defensive end, Hampton is a mess, although a lot of his issues boil down to inexperience. While he has elite athleticism and quickness, he often looks like he’s on skates. The game should slow down for him eventually, but until then, teams will likely have to hide him.
Most of his issues on the defensive end have to do with poor body position. An NBA coaching staff will have their work cut out for them, but he doesn’t lack effort or energy on the defensive end, just technique.
Hampton will need to get stronger and work to become more physical. He went to the free-throw line 3.3 times per 36 minutes, where he shot just 67.9 percent. With his style of play, he’ll need to increase both of those numbers if he hopes to maximize his scoring potential.
Fit with Kings
Combo guards are becoming the new rage in the NBA. Having a player that can come in and take some of the load off of De’Aaron Fox, while providing an offensive spark, should be a priority for Sacramento.
Hampton is one of the few players in the league that can come close to keeping up with Fox and there is a possibility that they could form a starting backcourt down the road.
In the short term, Hampton would work as a fifth guard while he refines his game. He would also be an insurance policy in case the Kings can’t retain Bogdan Bogdanovic or decide to move on from Buddy Hield.
This might not be an immediate need for the Kings, but with Yogi Ferrell unlikely to return to the team next season and Cory Joseph having one more guaranteed season on his deal, the Kings could look ahead and hope that Hampton cashes in on his tremendous potential.
Sacramento needs talent more than any one position, which is why Hampton stands out. He was a tremendous high school prospect and it’s possible he plays well above his draft position.
Jordan Clarkson, Will Barton