Another mock draft, another suggestion that 19-year-old guard RJ Hampton is the prospect for the Trail Blazers. Inside ESPN’s latest 2020 NBA Mock Draft, a panel of three experts delivered ideal picks for each team.
Jonathan Givony was the ESPN Insider tasked with making the Blazers’ selection. At pick No. 16, Givony went with a familiar player: RJ Hampton. In his analysis, Givony pointed to Hampton’s considerable upside.
Hampton started the season projected as a top-five pick but fell off the radar after an injury cut short his Australian NBL adventure. Still, he is one of the most physically gifted backcourt players in this class and has significant upside. His size and versatility should allow him to play either of the backcourt positions, which could be helpful for a Portland team that might be looking to bolster its depth after having Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum log heavy minutes.
Hampton, who has re-tooled his shot form with NBA veteran Mike Miller in recent months, averaged 8.8 points per game with the New Zealand Breakers of the NBL last season. In Hampton’s comprehensive draft profile on Blazer’s Edge, Steve Dewald pointed to the laundry list of strengths that the Texas native possesses.
Hampton’s NBA potential is bolstered by his explosive first step that allows him to get downhill quickly and effectively. Once he gets past his initial defender, the 19-year-old guard displays a fluid and natural finishing ability. If he faces a smaller defender at the rim or is granted an open lane, Hampton can quickly launch from either leg into a dunk. When facing a traditional rim protector, he shields the ball and creates space with his body until a window is presented for a layup. In transition, Hampton’s athletic gifts are on full display. He works to find open lanes on the break and quickly turns those opportunities into momentum-shifting finishes. As a facilitator, his stellar burst should allow him to blossom into a pick-and-roll threat.
You can read the full mock draft from Mike Schmitz, Kevin Pelton and Givony at ESPN+ (subscription required).