Fairly often in the NBA Draft there is a high-profile player who would be projected to go a lot higher if it weren't for concerns over an injury that sapped their production. R.J. Hampton is that guy this year, as he possess All-Star athleticism but had his 2019-20 season cut short due to a hip flexor while playing professionally in New Zealand.
Hampton says his hip has healed completely and he's been able to show teams he is 100 percent via recorded on-court workouts.
"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 his video conference for the NBA Draft Combine.
That's good news for him and also the teams who may be interested in making him a first round pick. The Wizards, for one, have held a pre-draft interview with Hampton, he said. He has also spoken to the Kings, Thunder, Pistons, Suns, Blazers, Knicks and Bulls, among others.
Hampton is hoping some team with a high pick bets on his updside as a combo guard in the mold of Zach LaVine.
"I bring that fast-paced, energizer guard. I can attack downhill and get my teammates involved and be a pest on defense," Hampton said.
Hampton has been splitting his time preparing for the draft between his hometown of Dallas, TX and Memphis, TN where he has been working with former NBA players Penny Hardaway and Mike Miller, both of the University of Memphis coaching staff.
Hardaway has been helping Hampton with his play-making and reads off ball-screens. Miller has been honing his jumpshot, which needs some work after he shot just 40.7 percent from the field and 29.5 percent from three in 15 games in Australia's NBL.
Developing his outside shot will help Hampton be more effective off the ball, which he says is a goal. He said a big emphasis over the summer was positional versatility.
If Hampton were to go to the Wizards, who hold the ninth overall pick, he would have to be successful off the ball to get major minutes with John Wall already installed as the starting point guard and Bradley Beal at the two. Hampton would have to back up Wall and hope he can find time with both of them in three-guard sets.
One of Hampton's most interesting answers as it pertains to the Wizards may have been what he said about De'Aaron Fox of the Kings, who plays a similar style to Wall:
"It kind of goes to my strengths. He's a fast-paced point guard who can get downhill and score at will. I think me and him would complement each other really well," Hampton said.
Perhaps the Wizards will see the same potential in Hampton and Wall as a duo. His upside is certainly worth a close look as Washington evaluates options at No. 9.