Denver Nuggets rookie combo guard RJ Hampton apparently finds a lot of inspiration in his game from Chicago Bulls star guards Derrick Rose and Zach LaVine.
The quest for the Chicago Bulls to get this rebuild on the right path heading into its fourth year is something that largely started for their new front office regime this offseason in the NBA Draft. Taking place on the night of Nov. 18, the 2020 NBA Draft saw the Bulls take a risk by picking the former Florida State Seminoles freshman forward and the reigning ACC Sixth Man of the Year Patrick Williams.
On draft night, the Bulls wound up also hauling in the KK Mega Bemax 21-year-old big man Marko Simonovic 44th overall in the second round and former Kansas Jayhawks star sophomore point guard Devon Dotson as an undrafted free agent signing. It looks like Simonovic will be more of a draft and stash pick. And Dotson got one of the Bulls two-way contract slots, along with to-be second-year shooting guard/wing Adam Mokoka.
The architect to the draft night strategy for the Bulls, newly hired executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas, is formerly an executive in the Denver Nuggets front office. Before landing the EVP of basketball operations position with the Bulls back in spring, Karnisovas was the Nuggets general manager.
After his departure, it was interesting to see how the Nuggets would plan out their strategy for the draft. The Nuggets draft wound up consisting of one big trade, landing them both former Arizona Wildcats big man Zeke Nnaji and the former New Zealand Breakers combo guard RJ Hampton.
The former of those two was selected 22nd overall in the first round of the draft by the Nuggets. And then Hampton, who was originally selected by the Milwaukee Bucks 24th overall in the first round, was promptly traded to the Nuggets.
All in all, the Nuggets landed two players late in the first round of the 2020 draft.
In the days since the draft concluded, Hampton continued to be vocal on how he is modeling his game to the modern NBA. He mentioned the Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine often both in the draft scouting process, and since draft night concluded. Hampton also brought up comparisons to the likes of other standout point guards like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.
Given the comparisons that Hampton is getting, and has for himself, he must have watched the Bulls a lot up to this point. If most of his game is modeled after ultra-athletic guards like LaVine and Rose namely, then the style of play that the Bulls have must be a big part of his game.
While this is the first time that we’ve heard the broad comparison from Hampton to Rose, we’ve heard the one before with LaVine. And given how much shake and quickness Hampton has in his game, especially on the offensive end of the floor, the comparisons aren’t completely unfounded.
The Bulls and Nuggets had very different draft hauls. But the way the rosters could be shaped could become more and more similar given that Karnisovas is now the lead voice in Chicago’s front office. LaVine is also still a mainstay of this roster heading into the 2020-21 season. Meanwhile, Rose is entering the second-year of his two-year contract he’s on with the Detroit Pistons.