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  • Derek Murray

RJ Hampton

Breakdown:


potential Outcomes


High: Ultra-athletic combo guard who provides efficient offense as both your primary + secondary ball handler depending on floor rotation. Strong decision maker, 37%-39% three point shooter who demands respect of defenders, allowing him to create for both himself and teammates. High IQ team defender who uses activity + energy to affect the game positively, ~1.5 stocks/game.


Medium: League avg three point shooter, somewhat turnover-prone with A:T ratio in the 1.5-2.0 range. Uses plus athleticism to drive lane and create points at the rim. Active on defense gathering steals but some issues with switchabilty in the post, causing foul trouble.


Low: Inability to shoot the three effectively enough to stay on the floor with #1 unit, only scoring opportunities come by driving the lane. Multiple turnovers and bad passes out of PnR. Weight/strength remain issues as he gets bumped off lines on both ends of the floor. Liability on defensive switches + PnR screen troubles.



Synergy Snapshots:


  • Offense:


  • Defense:


Body + Athleticism:

6-5, 185 pounds, lean and very athletic. His straight line/downhill speed stands out the most, as he's able to sprint easily in transition and turn corners quicker than majority of his opponents. Really fast with ball in his hand and enjoys pushing the pace. Fluid lateral movement, not elite but the tools are there. Elevates well of 1 or 2 feet, easy jumper. Has the frame to put on 10-15 pounds of muscle and really become a physical presence. Superb body control but needs weight on both upper + lower body.


Mental + Competitive Make-up:

Hampton gives vibes of the ultra-competitor. Fiery on both ends of the floor and never quits on a play. He'll dive for loose balls and demonstrates a real, genuine care factor. Even against bigger/stronger opponents he's not afraid of anybody. In the lower clip below I find some plays of him pushing the pace, fighting for rebounds, and refusing to give up on a play even when initially beat.


Offense


Role:

Combo guard who will run mostly as the 2, but could give you spot minutes at the 1. Will score most of his points as a driver and cutter due to his speed with the ball; encouraged by potential as a shooter. His speed will create room for him to get good looks, so development as a 3P guy will be paramount for his career. Should fit nicely with a roster who pushes pace as he likes to get out and run.

Won't be a #1 option on a contender, but can be your secondary ball handler + offensive spark plug. He'll need other playmakers/shooters around him for maximum value.


3 Point Shooting:

Hampton shot 29% from deep in his 15 NBL games. The mechanics are clean, as he has the ability to set his feet quickly and can elevate out of the dribble smoothly. He does appear to bring the ball across his face slightly from left to right but I don't think this will particularly cause any problems (picture in FT section). RJ is smooth transitioning from dribble to jumper, which is one of the highest ceiling-raisers for him. He's so fast with the ball in his hand that he should be able to get defenders off balance or to turn their hips very quickly. If he can attack this with a pull up three, he'll be incredibly tough to stop.


The numbers show he's an average to below-average shooter in spot ups and catch+shoots.

While there are some players that I would stay away from due to poor shooting percentiles, Hampton is not one of them at this point. As you see in the clip below, a lot of his misses are on line, but short. I'm hoping this is just an adjustment to the NBL 3PT line from the HS distance, so I'm encouraged by the ability to shoot adequately at the next level.


Scoring Versatility:

His scoring versatility projects to be the new-age, rim + 3PT attempts only. As you can see from the shot chart, he's not much of a mid range threat (1-11).

His strength is scoring + distributing out of PnR. Hampton can get downhill so quickly that he's tough to say in front of. Great first step burst, and can get low/flexible to maneuver around defenders. Average ball handling. I really like what RJ can become as a driver and finisher. Once in the air, he has excellent hang time and body control; he can twist his body to create space and score with either hand on acrobatic finishes. He's constantly in attack mode so there's rarely a possession in which his man can rest; they always have to be on their toes. Also has a decent touch on his floater; he doesn't employ it often but it's nice and soft.


I also love that he is comfortable playing on and off ball. He's definitely a tweener 1-2, which is why I think he'll be taken early in the draft. When thinking of a team who could use a combo guard, ATL/WAS/CLT come to mind, so I don't see him falling too far.


Free Throw Shooting:

He shot 73.7% from the line this year. It's not ideal, but this is why I think he can still be at least a league-average 3P shooter at the next level. My one note here is how he brings the ball across his face on the shot.

There are also times that his weight shifts + follow through is different. Below I've got 3 FT, 2 from the same game. In one he leans back, one he falls forward, and another the left-to-right movement causes the arms/ball to pull.

I'm not a FT shooting expert and don't claim to know everything, but I would like to see improved consistency on the releases.


Vision + Passing:

Hampton posted an AST:TO ratio of 1.68 in his 15 games, showing adequate, borderline poor, vision. He's flashed the ability to pass with either hand, moving any direction so there is promise to him as a distributor. His speed + ability as a play maker should open multiple opportunities to drive and kick, but he has to be able to find them.

At times he makes decisions after leaving the ground which caused a few turnovers, and his aggressive nature also had him trying to force passes into too small of windows. He often loses peripheral sight of teammates which leads to bad passes. It appears that once he gets into attack mode, the ability to see the floor goes away, resulting in attempts like these.



Defense


Awareness/IQ:

I like the IQ, but not the awareness. RJ understands his athletic abilities + knows when he has the advantage/disadvantage in particular situations. He's smart, but physical limitations are what hurt him. Awareness off-ball also lacks at times; I think he's so engaged in making a play for the ball, that he forgets his man can move. Gets lost in traffic often.


Team Defense:

Hampton is active in trying to deny passing lanes + cause problems for the offense, as he records the occasional steal/block. He's engaged and appears to communicate well with his teammates. Provides good help D by jumping into lanes and has above average hand/eye coordination + reaction time.

He's a total liability in the paint right now, as getting switched onto a big is almost a lock for points. He gets pushed around due to his weight, and without elite length, has a difficult time contesting the shots with space. Switchability is a real issue, as I don't see him guarding anything bigger than a SF at next level.


PnR/Iso Defense:

Hampton has a difficult time getting over screens at POA; sometimes looks like a baby animal trying to learn how to run with bigger feet. He's light on his feet but has gotten tangled up + also shown some trouble stopping quickly. He can overrun his man/lane leaving the bucket exposed. Tends to overrun closeouts, leaving himself vulnerable for easy lay ins and fouls trying to catch up. Excellent hips + lateral movement; he can slide and stay in front of his man when he's locked in.


My biggest concern is his weight, as it is imperative that he gain ~15+ pounds if he wants to hang in the NBA. These clips highlight the need for added muscle. Easily gets bumped off his line by the driver for an easy lay-in; NBA guards will finish this with ease.


Off-Ball Defense:

Hampton is engaged and plays with effort even when his man is off-ball. What's concerning, is that he's clearly still learning the movement + intricate details of professional offenses. It's not un-common for him to get caught ball watching a moment too long and get caught on a screen; even when he sees the screener for catch-and-shoots, he gets lost and it results in a clean look.


I never worry about laziness or lack of effort, but this needs to be cleaned up. Otherwise, NBA shooting guards will lose him easily.


Overall


Hampton will most likely have some of the worst Synergy numbers in the Draft class, especially on defense. Heavy analytical evaluators will probably stay away from him in the top of the lottery + wait for him to fall in the 12-15 range.


He's an athletic, skilled combo guard with the makings of a reliable NBA starter + potential to be part of a core for years. I understand both views on RJ: those who think he's a top-5 pick due to ceiling, and those who worry about the weight + issues it may bring in the future.


At the end of the day, I will likely drop him in my Big Board after taking this deep dive. I've had him in the 5-6 range for a while, but feel comfortable sliding into the 7-9 range due to shooting questions. I love that he plays with energy, fire, and a motor that few guys have, so I think he's well worth an organization taking a chance on.