This morning on ESPN show The Jump, five star rated recruit and projected 2020 top 10 pick RJ Hampton announced he was signing with the NZ Breakers. This was massive news all around the Basketball world. After some LaMelo Ball rumours, this signing has lived up to the hype. The Breakers lost last years import and star player Shawn Long to a fellow NBL team. With other import signings on the horizon the Breakers have started their free agency with a bang.
Hampton is a legitimate NBA prospect with Star upside. Though the Breakers have generated a ton of hype with this signing, its clear that this guy has come to play. He will be looking to solidify or even improve his projected draft position.
Hampton is a 6’5 Point Guard out of Little Elm High School in Texas. He was chosen as the Texas High School Player of the year. He became the first non senior to win it since Justise Winslow, who went on to be a top 10 pick for the Miami Heat. Though Hampton has a good size frame he is skinny and will want to bulk up in the next 12 months. He has just turned 18 though so has time on his side in this regard. In comparison, this years projected number two pick Ja Morant is an inch shorter than Hampton and weighs ten pounds less.
The first thing that you notice when watching Hampton is his athletiscm. Dunking off one foot he has great elevation and can finish well around the rim with finger rolls or soft touch finishes off the glass. He has nice long fluid strides and uses an array of spin moves and Eurosteps to get past defenders and finish around or through them. Though he sometimes struggles in contact against bigger players, he is crafty enough at the rim to either use an under hand finish or a change of direction to get past these larger opponents.
He has a tight handle and can change direction or stop on a dime. Hampton loves to finish with his right, though he is comfortable dribbling with his left he tends to go back to finishing on his right. At the next level he will need to use his left more but he has the dribble and body control to aid with this development.
He has a nice sweet shooting stroke and is comfortable either shooting off the dribble or the catch. With nice smooth mechanics, his long arms give him a high release . He is comfortable shooting above the break from both sides, and can pull up inside the arc, from the elbow area or the baseline. His use of screens with a dribble to either side is excellent, he can create space to get his shot off easily.
Hampton has a strong basketball IQ and has already shown he can make strong reads to cutters, or skip passes to shooters. Though he is a score first player, he makes good passes in transition also. To be an elite shot creator for others he will need to be able to pass off both hands. With limited open floor video he may have some of these skills in his repertoire. But he will need to show them on a regular basis at the next level to solidify a strong draft position.
On the less glamorous end of the floor Hampton is a good help defender, he has quick reactions and leaping ability to block shots. He has good hands defending the ball on the floor, but does struggle to get through screens sometimes due to his size. Overall though he has good lateral movement and can body up drivers from the outside. In the limited game video that isn’t highlights of him dunking, he shows good overall defensive skills.
The Breakers have a real winner on their hands for the 2019/20 season. A knockdown shooter who has explosive skills in transition, Hampton’s signing is the biggest news in New Zealand hoops since Steven Adams was drafted into the NBA. Here’s hoping he can get consistent game-time in the NBL to show he has what it takes to make it to the NBA.