Could there be an RJ-RJ backcourt at the Garden next season?
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.
NBA insiders believe the speedy 6-foot-5, 19-year-old combo guard has been under the radar as a top-10 player because the Dallas native played on the other side of the world and saw his season cut short by a hip injury.
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.
Rashad Phillips, a rising star in mock-draft circles who played at the University of Detroit Mercy and became IMG Academy’s skills director, told The Post he sees a lot of All-Star Victor Oladipo in Hampton. Knicks GM Scott Perry drafted Oladipo for the Magic in 2013.
“RJ is the Swiss Army knife to this draft,” Phillips said. “He’s one of the few prospects who can play anywhere because of his versatility. He’s exciting, explosive and a very intelligent kid. Extremely hard worker with a great family. Anytime a kid has those qualities, you put him on the top of your board. If I’m the Knicks, I’m looking at RJ Hampton.”
In NBL Australia, Hampton averaged 8.8 points, 2.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 20 minutes. The Knicks had planned a trip to Australia/New Zealand to hit the LaMelo Ball/Hampton exacta, but both players’ seasons ended prematurely.
With no draft combine, individual workouts or live interviews, Hampton’s chance of raising his stock could be hampered, though the draft may be postponed. The lottery is slated for May 19, but will be postponed unless the NBA scraps the regular season.
“I’ve watched him since eighth grade because he’s a Dallas kid,’’ said ESPN draft maven Fran Fraschilla, the Sheepshead Bay product who lives in Dallas. “He left the U.S. a top-10 to -20 prospect. He came home a top-10 to -20 prospect. He’s an NBA athlete but could be a project. I don’t know if he was as good as the hype accorded him when he left.”
Phillips released his first mock draft last week, placing Hampton at No. 9.
However, one NBA personnel man said the lack of a normal pre-draft process will crush Hampton, saying he could slip to close to the Knicks’ second pick in the first round — No. 27 overall. He added, “[Hampton is] not a point guard, which is where he played in New Zealand.”
Phillips, who does draft analyst work for Fox Sports, doesn’t believe Hampton, repped by one of the NBA’s top agents in Happy Walters, will be punished for going Down Under.
“Sometimes we all fall under the out-of-sight, out-of-mind, but I like to look at it in the positive light,’’ Phillips said. “What RJ did was impressive. It showed you how much he believed in his own ability. He was willing to walk a road few have traveled. And had success doing that. It speaks to his character. Not too many kids can go overseas [at] 18 years old and hold their own against grown men. He’s prepared mentally and physically to have an impact in the NBA early.”
Phillips won’t call Hampton a combo guard. Too simplistic.
“When you look at the landscape the way the game is played, RJ represents that position-less guard,’’ Phillips said. “He’s 6-5, 190 pounds. He has ability to play multiple positions. He can be an offensive initiator he can play shooting guard, wings. Offensively he can get in the paint and make plays. He’s a superb athlete, he’s probably the fastest player in the draft from end line to end line. He has dynamic qualities that if he gets with the right team and coaches, he has star written all over him.”
That could happen if Hampton, who shot 29.5 percent from 3-point range, becomes a respectable shooter from beyond the arc. The Knicks would love a 3-point-shooting point guard to counterbalance Barrett, who struggles from long range. That’s in short supply in this draft. Even Ball is a poor 3-point shooter.
“I think it’s average now, but you look at the work he’s willing to put in, he’s one of those old-fashioned gym rats,’’ Phillips said. “He’ll have a chance to be a 35 percent 3-point shooter.”
Phillips has come up with different position names in the new NBA and has Hampton as a “HG” — hybrid guard akin to Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and Oladipo. Another NBA talent evaluator sees Hampton as an athletic Spencer Dinwiddie.
“I see a lot of Victor in his game — a hybrid, terrific in the lane, making plays, high-wire act,’’ Phillips said.
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