Are the Knicks looking at drafting an RJ in the lottery two years in a row?
Last June the Knicks drafted RJ Barrett third overall then, due to a glut of forwards, asked the rookie to play a lead guard role that did not suit his game. The result was good counting stats — 14.3 points per game — but terrible efficiency. There were flashes that gave hope, but it’s hard to project out what Barrett will look like because we haven’t seen much of him in the role he eventually will fill in the league.
Now the Knicks are looking at drafting another RJ, this time RJ Hampton, a combo guard who skipped college to play in New Zealand last season and didn’t exactly blow scouts away. Still, Hampton intrigues the Knicks, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post.
According to a source, RJ Hampton, who skipped college to play in New Zealand, is another point-guard-type under consideration by the Knicks if they select between sixth and 10th in the draft currently slated for June 25…
Leon Rose strongly pursued Hampton as a client when Rose was a superagent for Creative Artists Agency before accepting the Knicks’ presidency. Now Rose could join forces with him in a different manner in pairing Hampton with shooting guard RJ Barrett.
Hampton is a 6’5″ guard who is fluid and quick with the ball, can score at the rim, is comfortable taking shots in the midrange, and is a solid playmaker. He’s best suited for an uptempo system to take advantage of his athleticism. That said, he needs to improve his decision making — he tends to play a little wildly — as well as his shooting, he needs to have three-point range to be a real NBA threat. In New Zealand he didn’t exactly light it up, averaging 8.8 points per game on 40 percent shooting.
Hampton has a lot of potential thanks to his athleticism, but he is a development project. He is projected as a late lottery pick.
The Knicks have the sixth-worst record in the NBA as things stand now (it’s unclear if there will be more regular season games). They have a 37.2 percent chance of landing in the top four picks (9 percent they get the top pick), but a 50.4 percent chance they draft No. 7 or 8 — and that is still earlier than some teams (and mock drafts) project Hampton going.
It’s possible the Knicks like Hampton and his potential and take him in that range.
Is Leon Rose going to bring in a head coach focused on player development and give players such as Hampton (or Barrett) room to make mistakes and grow, or is he thinking more win-now? His choice of head coach down the line will tell us a lot (Tom Thibodeau’s name comes up often, he has ties to Rose).
The Draft is still scheduled for June 25, but with the Draft Lottery and combine pushed back indefinitely, it’s expected the draft itself also will get moved back into the late summer or fall (depending upon what happens with the NBA season).