Projecting the future of the Orlando Magic point guard position

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R.J. Hampton, Orlando Magic
R.J. Hampton was seeking an opportunity on the court. The young Orlando Magic have given him every chance to shine. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

RJ Hampton


R.J. Hampton was one of the key trade deadline acquisitions by the Magic due to his name recognition, rookie status and his tantalizing potential and awe inspiring athleticism in his brief stints on the Denver Nuggets.

Hampton spent quite a while acclimating to both a new team and system as well as the NBA but as he has become more comfortable, we are seeing his confidence and play develop to match the potential that many fans were ecstatic about when he was acquired.

May has brought about Hampton’s awakening — an impressive across-the-board statistical increase from 9.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game in April to 16.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game in May.

This statistical increase has corresponded with a sizable minutes increase which has showcased the athleticism that makes Hampton so exciting.

Hampton is a monster in transition, often using his elite speed to burst past defenders and finish with a tremendous dunk or crafty lay-up.

Hampton is at his absolute best on offense when he is able to gain a full head of steam and drive to the basket — often leaving his defender out of position and giving Hampton the option of driving all the way to the basket or stopping on a dime for a pull-up jumper.

The ability to draw defenders to the paint on his drive causes lapses in rotations on the perimeter, allowing Hampton to pass out of a drive onto wide-open 3-point shooters.

Notice how Hampton has the understanding that as he drives the weak side defender will come from the corner to block a possible layup attempt.

As Hampton begins his ascent toward the basket, he quickly identifies the help defender and contorts his body to angle his pass so Moritz Wagner can shoot a wide-open three before the defense can recover.


R.J. Hampton must expand his game to operate in the half-court effectively. While he can be exciting to watch in transition, Hampton’s game is almost entirely predicated upon his reliance on his athletic gifts.

When operating in the half-court, Hampton almost always stays parked at the top of the key — this is so he can gain momentum from the half-court as he drives towards the rim.

This lack of half-court offensive creativity has been exploited by teams who understand what Hampton’s game plan is every time he has the ball.

In many ways, Hampton’s elite speed is his biggest asset and his biggest weakness. Sometimes he just needs to slow down and learn how to use and modulate his speed more effectively. That is a struggle all young, fast players have to go through.

More than half of Hampton’s shot attempts have come within 10 feet of the basket and while he does attempt some three-pointers, his 29.1-percent conversion rate is below the league average by a considerable margin — although he is shooting an impressive 9 for 18 from the corners in a small sample size.

These issues may not be a product of his own style of play but rather an extension of the lack of playing time on a new team. It may be that for the time being, Hampton is the most comfortable in the Magic system when operating as a slasher and driver.

The Magic have been careful to deploy him in a limited role so he can gain confidence. Initially they tried to avoid using him as a point guard, but his ball-handling duties have slowly expanded.


R.J. Hampton is exciting and it will be interesting to see how he grows as he becomes even more acclimated to both the NBA and the Orlando Magic. There is some concern due to the similarities in his game compared to Markelle Fultz but there is enough growth over the last few months to justify giving Hampton ample playing time to accommodate for further improvements.