The Boston Celtics are going to have a busy night ahead of them. Whether Danny Ainge moves up in the draft or trades Gordon Hayward, something’s going to happen. Or, it could be like every other year, and the Celtics make zero moves and use all their draft picks. That would be a nightmare, but if I’ve learned one thing as a Celtics fan, it’s never to get your hopes up.
If the Celtics decide to stand pat and hold on to their draft picks, I believe the Celtics should take a look at RJ Hampton with the #14 pick.
Hampton has been tied to Boston for a while and is a player that fans have expected the Celtics to select in this year’s draft. There’s a good reason for that. Although top NCAA basketball teams recruited him, Hampton decided to play for the New Zealand Breakers of the National Basketball League (NBL).
In my honest opinion, I see more value in a player who’s played professional basketball overseas than someone who played for a mid-D1 team. Being able to play against and alongside professional athletes goes a long way when you do so at a young age.
RJ Hampton’s biggest strength is his finishing ability. Hampton is quick at getting to the basket and uses his height and athleticism to his advantage. He uses his size to rise above his opponents and 6’7 wingspan to finish anywhere around the rim. His aggressiveness with the ball allows him to speed past his opponents and take it strong to the basket.
His quickness and athleticism allow him to be very effective when it comes to driving to the basket, but the thing is, he really hasn’t shown much else. He has a solid base for a jump shot, but besides a few mid-range shots or corner threes, he isn’t that effective at shooting the ball. Also, he’s a pretty lazy defender.
At 19 years old, Hampton is a work in progress. I’ve always viewed Hampton as a project. He’s a player worth taking a chance on, but he won’t make an impact for a while. If the Celtics select RJ Hampton, he’ll most likely spend the first year or two in the G League. Until he works on developing an all-around offensive game, he won’t find a spot in the rotation for years.
I do think it’s worth selecting Hampton with the #14 pick. It’s not like the Celtics don’t know what they’re drafting. Hampton has a ton of potential; he just needs the time to focus on his strengths and work on his weaknesses. He’s one of the best finishers in the draft, but it’s everything else that needs to come along. And it will.
Of course, if somebody like Tyrese Maxey is available at #14, I’m taking him over Hampton. But if he’s gone and Hampton is the best player available, I say he’s worth a shot. The Celtics have three first-round picks anyway, so if they mess up with one of them, the other two have to work out, right?