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Three takes on RJ Hampton at the NBL Blitz
We got our first serious look at future NBA draft pick RJ Hampton in Tasmania over the weekend, as he appeared in both matches for the New Zealand Breakers at the NBL Blitz.
The 18 year old started in each fixture, recording 11 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds in their opening win against Melbourne United. He was even more impressive in their second outing, against South East Melbourne Phoenix, scoring 20 points to go along with 5 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.
Here is what we took from his efforts.
1. Matchup nightmare
Standing at around 6'6", Hampton is a serious matchup nightmare at the point guard position. His ability to get to the rim and use his length was an issue for opposing defences during the Blitz.
Against United, he was able to take Mitch McCarron to the rack and score with relative ease, and against the Phoenix he did the same when Kyle Adnam guarded him.
If opposition teams decide to move a bigger body on him, it is likely he will be too quick and athletic. The Breakers should be able to utilise him well on offence and wreak havoc alongside the likes of Corey Webster and Scotty Hopson.
2. Pick and rolls for days
Don't be surprised to see the New Zealand coaching staff put Hampton through a number of pick and roll actions on offence this season.
He has shown great potential finding teammates in the half-court offence, an example of which can be seen below. He should also be able to attack and get to the rim whether teams switch or not.
It will be intriguing to see how much the Breakers play Hampton off the ball, potentially posting him up against smaller guards. However, if they decide to leave him running the offence whenever he is on the floor they are in safe hands.
3. Shooting is the next step
From his efforts at the NBL Blitz, it appears the next step for Hampton is a consistent outside shot.
He was 2/7 from three-point range over the Breakers two games and was 1/3 when shooting in the mid-range.
If Hampton can develop his shooting ability from deep, he will be more difficult to stop. The youngster will be able to spot up off the ball and be a threat coming off flair screens.
But he should also be able to take advantage of defences and spot-up if they decide to go under screens when he is in the role of the ball-handler.
His development over the season will be very intriguing and at just 18 years old, he looks destined for great things - ESPN's Jonathan Givony, who was in attendance at the Blitz, had Hampton at 6th in the latest 2020 mock draft. However, in the meantime, he will be an incredibly valuable asset for the Breakers.