The New York Knicks are interested in drafting RJ Hampton, one of the top guard prospects in the 2020 NBA Draft. Last year, Hampton decided to bypass college basketball and the top high school recruit signed a one-year deal with the New Zealand Breakers in Australia’s basketball league (NBL).
Hampton, a 6-foot-5 guard from Dallas, Texas, ranked #5 overall in ESPN’s top-100 high school basketball prospects.
Hampton got a year of pro ball under his belt, albeit down under in Australia and New Zealand. He averaged 8.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 15 games with the Breakers. He also learned how to become a professional, one of the many positive aspects of playing basketball overseas.
Leon Rose, a former agent at CAA before becoming president of the NY Knicks, tried to sign Hampton last year. Rose has a strong relationship with the Hampton the family, which is why all signs point to the Knicks picking him in the NBA Draft.
“Rose strongly pursued Hampton as a client when Rose was a super-agent for Creative Artists Agency before accepting the Knicks’ presidency,” wrote Marc Berman from the NY Post. “Now Rose could join forces with him in a different manner in pairing Hampton with shooting guard RJ Barrett.”
Guard Heavy 2020 Draft
Hampton, who grew up in Dallas, is projected to go in the middle of the first round. A couple of mock drafts have him as high as #10. The consensus in other mock drafts has Hampton gone by the #15 pick.
If the Knicks can secure a pick in the low teens, they’ll look to draft RJ Hampton even though he’s not one of the top-3 point guard prospects in a guard-heavy 2020 NBA Draft.
As far as talent and scoring goes, Anthony Edwards (Georgia) is the premier guard in the draft. He’s projected #1, but a team that needs a big man could opt for 7-footer James Wiseman instead.
LaMelo Ball has always been hyped as the best of the three Ball brothers. He also played down under in the NBL last season. Many scouts project Ball as a top-3 pick.
Scouts were also high on Killian Hayes, the top point guard prospect from Europe. Hayes’ father played ball at Penn State and had a lengthy career overseas. Kilian Hayes grew up in France and played at the same club team as his father.
There are a couple of top point guards from the collegiate ranks as well. Both Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton and UNC’s Cole Anthony were picked ahead of Hampton in mock drafts.
Another RJ for the Knicks?
Will the Knicks draft an RJ for the second year in a row?
Last year, the Knicks used the third pick in the 2019 NBA Draft to selected RJ Barrett from Duke. Barrett, a top forward prospect originally from Canada, was best known for playing at Duke alongside Zion Williamson. When the Knicks whiffed on securing the overall #1 pick, they settled on Barrett with the third pick.
Barrett demonstrated flashes of brilliance as the Knicks’ second-best scorer with 14.3 ppg. At times, Barrett looked like the best player on the court, whereas at other times, he played like a bone-headed rookie. But Barrett is still only 19-years old with plenty of upside. It also helped that Steve Nash, ex-Phoenix Suns and LA Lakers star, is Barrett’s godfather and provided a mentorship role for Barrett.
Rose, overseeing his first NBA draft with the Knicks, would love to bring Hampton into the mix to have the RJ and RJ Show at MSG.
The San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings, and Orlando Magic have also shown some interest in Hampton.
Do the Knicks Really Need Another PG?
A quick glance at the Knicks’ current roster shows a trio of point guards: Elf Payton (10.1 ppg, 7.2 assists), Frank Ntilikina (6.3 ppg, 3.0 assists), and Dennis Smith, Jr. (5.5 ppg, 2.9 assists)
Payton held his own, but the other point guards haven’t gotten enough playing time to prove their worth. As is, they are both dead weight at this point. The French-born Ntilikina, aka Frankie Cigarettes, has been a bust. The Knicks, specifically GM Phil Jackson, selected Ntilikina with the #8 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Jackson believed Ntilikina would be ideal for his triangle offense, but owner James Dolan fired Jackson a week after the draft.
The Knicks acquired Smith in a massive trade with the Dallas Mavericks when they shipped out the disgruntled “Unicorn” aka Kristaps Porzingis. The Mavs got the best of the Knicks on that deal. Porzingis and Luka Doncic have developed chemistry, while Smith sits at the end of the bench as the third-string point guard.
In the last week, rumors have been heating up in New York City that the Knicks want Chris Paul. He’s a Hall of Fame point guard in the twilight of his career. But his former agent, Leon Rose, happens to be running the Knicks as we speak.
Obviously, the Knicks would have to trade Smith and one of their big guys (Bobby Portis) plus draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for CP3.