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Nuggets acquire guard R.J. Hampton, the 24th pick in the NBA Draft

(Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

When the Nuggets were on the board with their selection in the 2020 NBA Draft, some thought they’d select guard R.J. Hampton. Instead, they went with Zeke Nnaji, a 6-foot-11 big man out of the University of Arizona.

But clearly, Denver was intrigued by Hampton, however. Two picks later, they traded New Orleans for the rights to the 6-foot-5 guard.

Hampton is an intriguing prospect. Highly recruited out of high school, the guard chose to bypass a season of college basketball, deciding instead to play professionally in Australia.

After his prep career, many thought Hampton could be a top-three pick in the NBA Draft. And for good reason.

During his senior year at Little Elm High School (Texas), he averaged 32.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 3.9 steals. He also shined on the AAU circuit in the spring of 2019, where he ranked second in scoring at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, averaging 28.8 points per game.

Here’s how NBA.com described Hampton’s offensive game in the draft profile:

Hampton possesses an elite combination of speed, explosiveness, and length. His most noteworthy skill is his ability to attack the rim downhill in transition and isolation situations. He is smooth with the ball and is emerging as a playmaker who can create solid opportunities for teammates out of the pick and roll. Despite nice-looking shooting mechanics, he struggles both with his accuracy and willingness to shoot the three ball. This reluctance has led defenses in the NBL to often go under screens to dare him to shoot.

On the other end of the court, NBA.com sees a big upside for Hampton:

Defensively, he has a combination of athleticism and instincts that create the potential of a high-level defensive player. Presently, he lacks upper body strength to hold his position defensively, as well as the ability to finish and draw fouls.

Hampton figures to work into the backcourt rotation behind starters Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, coming off the bench with Monte Morris.

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