Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers interview guard RJ Hampton

Trail Blazers
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It's that time of year, even though it doesn't feel like it... It's time to ramp for the NBA Draft.

The draft, usually held in June, has been pushed back because of COVID-19 and will now take place on November 18.

The Blazers hold the 16th and 46th picks in the draft, and the first batch of prospects are starting to be connected to Rip City.

Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington is reporting that RJ Hampton of the National Basketball League's New Zealand Breakers has interviewed with the Blazers. 

Hampton, like fellow draft prospect LaMelo Ball, chose not to play in college and instead played professionally in Australia's  National Basketball League.

Hampton played in 15 games, averaging 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. 

He started his first 12 games in the NBL, until he suffered a hip injury that held him out of action for nearly a month.  

The hip has since healed, but the injury could lead to a potential lottery pick slipping a few spots. 

"I'm just as athletic as ever and just as fast as ever. I feel like I've done a good job of showing teams I'm not injured anymore," Hampton told reporters Tuesday in an NBA Draft Combine video conference call.

Hampton shows great potential. As Hughes points out, he could end up being a draft night steal similar to Michael Porter Junior, and his skillset is reminiscent of a young Zach LaVine. 

 

So far, the teams that have shown interest in Hampton are all over the board. Teams like the Bulls (No.4 overall pick) and the Thunder (No.25 overall pick) have been in contact, as well as the Kings (No. 12 pick), Pistons (No. 7 pick), Suns (No. 10 pick), Wizards (No. 9 pick),and Knicks (No. 8 pick).

Hampton had limited time in the NBL, and an injury scare, so teams are really taking a flyer on his potential alone.

There is little doubt that Hampton possesses a lot of raw tools, but there is a question as to where he would fit on the Blazers. 

Hampton is a guard, meaning he would have to join a Blazers roster that already has Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, while youngsters Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. continue to be future building blocks. 

However, his size could realistically see him play anywhere from one through three. According to the official NBA Draft Guide, Hampton comes in at 6'6", 176 lbs. That would make him the tallest of the four guards mentioned above. Like most prospects, he would just have to add muscle to that long frame.

Are the Blazers truly interested or are they just throwing a smokescreen? Who knows? What we do know is it's time to get excited and get prepared for the newest crop of Blazers to come to town. Nov.18th is just around the corner. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon].