After initially telling NBA teams that they wouldn’t be permitted to scout practices involving top prospects LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton this season due to the league’s no-contact rules, the league office allowed clubs to attend a pair of New Zealand Breakers practices in Memphis this week to get a look at Hampton, according to a pair of reports from Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com.
As Givony details, scouts and executives from NBA teams had hoped to attend a total of five Breakers practices this week in Memphis and Oklahoma City to scout Hampton as part of the New Zealand club’s preseason tour. However, the league prohibited teams from attending sessions on Sunday and Monday morning before opening up Monday night’s practice as well as Tuesday morning’s shootaround. Teams will also be allowed to attend the Breakers’ morning shootaround on Thursday in OKC, Givony adds.
As Givony explains, the NBA’s no-contact rules prohibit teams from having contact with draft-ineligible players outside of a few approved settings, including official games and select college practices. Non-college prospects like Ball and Hampton are still considered draft-ineligible for 2020 at this point since they haven’t officially declared through the league office.
The league’s latest memo related to non-contact rules extensively addressed college and international prospects, but Ball and Hampton technically don’t fall into either category since they’re not attending college and haven’t lived outside the U.S. for three years — they’re essentially in a grey area, leaving the NBA to interpret their status based on the league’s existing rules.
It’s possible the NBA will alter its interpretation of those rules or tweak them slightly to allow teams more freedom to scout Ball and Hampton over the course of the 2019/20 season. Givony points out that 27 NBA scouts attending the NBL Blitz in Tasmania last month and many of those scouts attended practices involving Ball and Hampton, which may lead to fines.
The Breakers practices that were open to NBA execs and scouts this week were heavily populated, according to the NBL, which estimates that over 100 reps from teams were on hand on Monday night to get a look at Hampton. Another top 2020 prospect, James Wiseman, had his pro day at the University of Memphis earlier on Monday, so many scouts and execs attended both events.
Meanwhile, Ball, who is also playing in the NBL as a member of the Illawarra Hawks, is drawing plenty of attention from fans in addition to NBA teams. According to Adam Zagoria of Forbes.com, Ball’s NBL debut became the most-watched game in league history, with one million viewers streaming the game on Facebook in the United States.
Zagoria also wrote in a separate Forbes article that the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Nets, and Raptors are among the teams that have reached out to the Spire Academy in Ohio – where Ball played last season – for information on the young point guard. The Cavaliers have also been evaluating him, sources tell Zagoria.
In ESPN’s latest mock draft, Givony had Wiseman coming off the board at No. 1, followed by Ball at No. 3 and Hampton at No. 6.