What was the first thought when you saw R.J. Hampton being traded to Denver at 24th overall?
Ryan Blackburn (@NBABlackburn): The Nuggets saved their draft by adding a great prospect on the wing. Hampton was an elite high school prospect before deciding to divert from the NCAA route and instead go to New Zealand. Hampton had a tough season playing against grown men, but the talent was never a question with him. He’s a guy I like for the Nuggets a lot and gives them some juice they may not have had on the wing before.
Brandon Ewing (@B_Skip1717): Absolutely loved the pick! I thought Hampton could have been the target at 22, so the fact that Denver added another young player in Zeke Nnaji and still got Hampton is extremely exciting. Hampton played professionally in Australia last season and the Nuggets have had success — Torrey Craig — with players coming out of the NBL before. I’m excited to see what Hampton does in Denver, I think it could be something pretty special.
Daniel Lewis (@denverstiffs): This is more like it! Hampton was a lottery talent with late first production. He banked on his talent helping him get into the first round without experience in the NCAA, and he got to experience playing against grown men in Australia. He’s got a great physical profile as a scoring point guard, and is a solid pick to bet on potential.
Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs): Brought a smile to my face. Denver taking a player who falls in the draft but has loads of talent had a familiar ring to it. If Zeke Nnaji felt like a bit of an overdraft even though he fell in the high range of expectations, then Hampton felt like a steal and who doesn’t love a steal on draft night?
Was this pick a “best player available” or “best fit” move?
Blackburn: Definitely a BPA selection. Denver’s in a good spot to go for upside with not a ton of pressing needs on the roster. They decided to go with an elite athlete at shooting guard who’s raw in terms of his actual impact but should be good down the line. I like the Nuggets taking a chance here.
Ewing: This is 100 percent a BPA move and I love it! The Nuggets went need with the Nnaji pick, but they definitely went BPA when making the trade for Hampton. Just like they did when they took a chance on Michael Porter Jr. and Bol Bol, Hampton was another highly rated prospect coming out of high school who slid on draft night. The Nuggets took a chance on MPJ and Bol, which has worked out pretty nicely. Hopefully the same can be said about Hampton in a few years.
Lewis: Definitely best player available. I like that they sent over a future first to get a player to start developing now. They are going to need Hampton in 2021-22 and beyond, and that future pick doesn’t help them now. They can get him in the film room and weight room, working with him in person to develop him into a future contributor.
Gross: BPA, and potentially the signifier of a coming trade as well, either now or at the deadline.
Will Hampton have a significant role in the 2020-21 season?
Blackburn: Unless something crazy happens, I expect Hampton to play less than 300 minutes on the Nuggets next year, and that’s okay. With Gary Harris and Will Barton ahead of him at shooting guard, Hampton has veterans he can study while continuing to refine his game in low pressure situations.
Ewing: Gary Harris and Will Barton are both ahead of Hampton on the depth chart, so I don’t expect him to play unless another move goes down. Still, I think Hampton will get some time next season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make an instant impact.
Lewis: I don’t think so. PJ Dozier can fill the fifth guard role for the team, and Hampton can save his rookie eligibility for the next season. He can be an elite towel waver and cheerleader as he learns how to play in the NBA.
Gross: Hampton is raw but will need minutes to develop and will need to get them from one of Denver’s guards, so his drafting might be the harbinger of a trade, this offseason or during the season, much as Kenneth Faried’s drafting was. He’s already been playing in Australia and while he’s unlikely to be in Denver’s playoff rotation barring some changes he can certainly take some of the minutes burden off Denver’s oft-injured guards and try to keep them fresher for post-season duty.
Grade the draft pick:
Blackburn: It’s gotta be an A. I didn’t expect Hampton to be there at 22. The Nuggets went Nnaji which caught me by surprise, but Hampton was a good recovery.
Ewing: I think Hampton’s going to be a stud. A+ pick by Tim Connelly and the Nuggets front office.
Lewis: A. Love this pick. Lots of potential, and I’m glad they bought a lottery ticket. Redeemed their first round.
Gross: A-. Hampton is not the talent that MPJ was, but also doesn’t have the massive injury concerns that either he or Bol Bol came into the league with. Hampton fell, and could be considered a similar steal, but this isn’t a draft where just falling from expectations guarantees that. Still he has a lot of potential and brings a different bag of tricks than Jamal Murray in terms of slashing prowess and bounce. He’s got more in common with Will Barton that way, and as Denver may be in the market for a Barton replacement that’s a really good pickup.