The Utah Jazz has a promising rookie on their hands in the form of R.J. Hampton. The 6’4″ guard was selected 24th overall in the 2020 NBA Draft and has already shown flashes of the talent that made him a top prospect coming out of high school.
Hampton was a five-star recruit coming out of Little Elm High School in Texas and was ranked as the fourth-best point guard and 11th-best overall player in the class of 2020 by ESPN. He originally committed to play college basketball at Kansas but decided to bypass college and play professionally in Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) for the New Zealand Breakers.
In his one season in the NBL, Hampton averaged 8.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. While those numbers may not jump off the page, Hampton’s potential was clearly evident to the Jazz, who decided to take a chance on him in the draft.
So far, Hampton has not disappointed. In the limited minutes he’s been given, he’s shown the ability to score, distribute the ball, and play solid defense. He’s also displayed a level of maturity and poise that belies his youth and lack of experience.
One of the most impressive things about Hampton is his ability to play both guard positions. He’s equally comfortable running the point as he is playing off the ball, and this versatility will be a valuable asset for the Jazz moving forward. He’s also a capable three-point shooter, hitting at a 33% clip in the NBL and showing promise in the NBA so far.
Another aspect of Hampton’s game that has stood out is his defense. He’s not the biggest or strongest player on the court, but he’s quick and has good lateral movement, which allows him to stay in front of his man and make it difficult for them to score. He’s also shown the ability to be a ball hawk, averaging 1.4 steals in the NBL.
Hampton’s rookie season has been truncated by injuries, but when he’s been on the floor, he’s shown flashes of the potential that made him a first-round pick. He’s still a work in progress and has a lot to learn, but the Jazz is confident that he has the talent and work ethic to develop into a valuable contributor to the team in the future.
While it’s still early in Hampton’s career, the signs are positive. He’s a player with a high ceiling, and the Jazz will be patient in his development. With his combination of scoring ability, defensive prowess, and versatility, Hampton has the potential to be a valuable asset for the Jazz for many years to come. The Utah Jazz organization and fans are excited to see what the future holds for this talented and promising young player.