We are weeks away from the Draft and according to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, the only problem Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is facing right now is finding a partner to swap his first-round picks with. The Minnesota Timberwolves hold the No.1 overall pick, followed by teams like the Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, and Cleveland Cavaliers picking between selections No. 3 and No. 5.
Ainge will most likely target one of the latter three teams in hopes the Hornets, Bulls, or Cavaliers are willing to sign three first-round picks over one.
O’Connor: ‘If Celtics Stay Here, (RJ) Hampton Would Make Sense’
If the Celtics are unable to move up in the Draft, O’Connor thinks the Celtics should take prospect RJ Hampton.
“The Celtics have offered their three first-round picks (nos. 14, 26, and 30) in trades to try and move up, according to multiple league sources,” O’Connor writes. “So far, no one is biting. If the Celtics stay here, Hampton would make sense because he could serve as a spark-plug scorer off the bench. If Gordon Hayward were to leave Boston, secondary shot creation would be needed sooner rather than later.”
RJ Hampton: The Pros & Cons
Hampton, who elected to spend a season in New Zealand in lieu of heading to college, was a five-star recruit after graduating high school in Texas.
O’Connor believes Hampton is probably the best NBA-ready prospect who fits the Celtics’ needs. His immediate impact is exactly what Boston could use right now to strengthen Brad Stevens’ second unit and with the kind of skillset Hampton possesses, he has the potential to develop into a reliable scoring threat.
“He can hit turbo on drives to the rim, and has explosiveness when elevating for layups,” O’Connor writes. “He stays low on crossovers, and displays advanced moves with herky-jerky hesitations. Displays the fundamentals, craft, and body control to become a good interior finisher. Playmaking potential. Loves one-handed whip passes off the dribble, and throws them with precision. Doesn’t make advanced reads but flashes the ability to develop in pick-and-roll.”
Hard drives to the rim, scoring in transition, and secondary playmaking will earn some playing time off the bench but shooting keeps you on the floor, for Stevens. And as O’Connor pointed out on the bad side of Hampton’s pros and cons list, it’s going to take some time for that part of Hampton’s game to develop at the pro level.
“Inconsistent footwork hurts his jump shot,” O’Connor writes. “His feet always seem to be lined up differently, though they’re generally too close for him to cleanly release his shot. His upper body looks good, though. Without a reliable jumper, his strengths will be diminished. Selecting him is a big bet on the development of his shooting ability.”
The NBA Draft is on Wednesday, November 18.