RJ Hampton has had an interesting path to the NBA by heading to the Australian NBL first. After turning a lot of heads as a high school prospect, his future in the NBA could be very bright. Hampton grew up in Little Elm, Texas, a suburb in the DFW area, so being drafted by the Dallas Mavericks is something that has surely crossed his mind before. Here’s why taking a guy like Hampton could be a risky move with the potential for high reward.
- Extreme athleticism
- Very young, lots of confidence
- Not the best 3-point shooter
- Needs to improve his shot overall
- Very good in transition
- Quick and bouncy
- Good touch around the rim
- Free throw shooting could use improvement
- Good vision
- Very lean and quick, needs to put on some muscle
- Not the best off-ball defender
- Decent anticipation, ability to read situations and get steals on occasion
- Good height for a guard
- Length and speed allow him to get out in transition and run
- Could be targeted on switches down low
- High vertical allows him to shot block as a guard
- Many scouts say he “needs improvement” overall defensively
Active Player Comparisons
If everything goes wrong: Jared Cunningham
If everything goes right: Zach Lavine
Most Realistic Outcome: Dennis Smith Jr. with size + more potential
Stats and Accomplishments
Best Games Last Season
vs. Melbourne United
16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 6-12 FGA (50%)
18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 6-9 FGA (67%)
15 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 5-12 FGA (43%)
3 Key Things
- The Athleticism
RJ Hampton has been compared to Russell Westbrook, Zach Lavine, and many guards with incredible athleticism. When you watch him play, the reasons for those comparisons become obvious. He’s incredibly springy and has the ability to aggressively attack the rim with speed and finesse. He is currently ranked as the 3rd best shooting guard available in the draft, but he ranks first in rebounds, assists, and steals per game when compared with the other top four shooting guards, per Tankathon. When attacking the rim, he drives with confidence and speed, showing no fear when going up against larger defenders. He’s 6’5 and with his vertical, he will surely have a lot of flashy moments with whatever team he ends up playing for.
- The Upside
I mentioned before that Hampton is a high-risk, high-reward prospect. Some have questioned his maturity and readiness, but he is also praised for his potential upside as an off-ball guard. He shows good vision, strong instincts, and flashiness. If he’s put into a good system where his athleticism can be showcased and his skills can continue to develop, he should improve nicely. He’ll only be 19 come draft time, so he’s got plenty of time. I do feel that he’s the type of player that can only be successful in certain systems, and while that may be a red flag for some people, I think Dallas could be one of those systems. I also think that that may be a reason why he’s still available at 18. Dallas doesn’t have a bouncy guard on the roster, and when on the floor with Luka, he could easily become a consistent backdoor-cutting option that could result in easy points off the bench.
- Room to grow as a shooter
After reading some scouting reports, some scouts describe Hampton as having a “strong shooting stroke” and an “ability to hit the three with ease.” Looking at his season stats with the NZ Breakers, he only shot 29% from the three-point line. Despite this, the film shows that he takes threes with confidence. In the NBA, we all know how important confidence is, especially after watching Luka Doncic. Again, going back to the Dallas training and development staff, I have no doubt that those shooting numbers will go up as time goes on.
Role with the Mavericks
Hampton would presumably come off the bench for the Mavericks. Assuming we bring back Tim Hardaway Jr., Carlisle will most likely continue to start him next to Luka with his catch and shoot capabilities. Having RJ as a reserve would add a new dynamic to our bench. Playing him next to Seth Curry or even Jalen Brunson would be great for his game. Next to Brunson, he would be the more athletic, slashing type guard. Brunson has great vision and could get Hampton the ball when he’s being guarded by a less athletic defender. Curry also has great vision and instincts. Curry is a great scorer, but he’s not the most athletic guard. Having Hampton there to balance him out would open up more shots for both of them. Last but most certainly not least; his fit next to Luka. We all know how great Luka is at finding the open guy and making the right play. As an off-ball guard, Hampton could play well as a secondary playmaker next to Luka down certain stretches of the game. Having Hampton on this team would give us more depth at the guard position, assuming we bring back Trey Burke and don’t bring back JJ Barea. If Dallas selects RJ Hampton with the 18th overall pick, I’d encourage Mavs fans to get excited because the number one thing that’s talked about when it comes to him is his upside. I wouldn’t expect him to be an immediate contributor, but with time and patience, I could see him fitting well and blossoming with this team.
The Mavericks have been known to develop guys like Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber. While both of those guys were undrafted signings, neither of them were predicted to have as much potential as Hampton. I have faith in Carlisle/Mosely/Armstrong/Silas’ ability to improve his three-point shooting and defensive skills. With his athletic abilities and good instincts, I’d be very intrigued to see how Carlisle decides to use him. I’m not sure if the Mavericks intend to keep their 18th pick, but if Hampton is there, I certainly won’t be mad if they take him.