How R.J. Hampton can develop with the Nuggets
There’s one thing about the culture in Denver: they love to take a chance on their young prospects to blossom into perennial All-Stars. Just look at where guys in Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have came from their first year in. There’s a system that Mike Malone has created in Denver and it seems to work to his benefit.
The Nuggets selected R.J. Hampton with the 24th overall pick in this year’s draft. The late pick left many insiders wondering why Hampton, an elite international prospect, fell so low in the first round.
One thing’s for certain; Denver will not complain at the fact that he was available. The Nuggets got a steal with their pick of Hampton, adding another guard with a high basketball IQ.
Somehow, Hampton’s name seems to have fallen off the map over the past year. When he made the decision to play overseas and skip college, it gave other prospects the confidence to use the same route. This decision forced other to put their game against the toughest competition professionally.
Over the past year, Hampton had the opportunity to experience tough, physical play in the Australian NBL. It’s safe to say the experience potentially got him ready for what’s ahead in the NBA.
Hampton averaged 8.8 points in his single NBL season. His shooting percentages may have become the big reason behind his low first round draft pick. Hampton had horrific shooting splits of .407/.295/.679 this past season.
It was no question that the defense was physical with Hampton on the perimeter. Opposing teams closed his gaps and openings and forced him into making unnecessary plays. These are situations that Hampton must improve upon as he becomes comfortable playing in the NBA. With a little more trust in himself and his teammates, Hampton will find a way to overcome physical defenders.
The route in the NBA may be a difficult one for R.J. Hampton. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nuggets sent him to their G-League affiliate to continue to develop as a floor general. It’s key for Hampton to be able to control everything on the floor with his court vision and attention to detail. There are numerous glaring spots that need work in his game and he has potential to clean up a few mistakes. The more development Hampton displays in the G-League, the better chance he has of being called up by the Nuggets.
Hampton can be a key piece in the Nuggets’ championship quest. He would have the ability to complement players in Jokic and others while on the floor. When everything is clicking for Hampton on the floor, he has the ability to go to work and impact the game with his talent.
There’s no question that Mike Malone and the rest of the organization will guide Hampton into becoming a fantastic all-around player. With more assertiveness and action with the basketball, Hampton will be just fine running the point guard position.
The Nuggets have faith that R.J. Hampton will become a valuable guard in the NBA. His professional experience will carry over as he knows what to expect at the beginning of this season. This will be a great learning season for Hampton and could turn into a great rookie campaign.