The Rockets acquired Jordan Hamilton for Aaron Brooks yesterday, and Nate Timmons of Denver Stiffs took some time to answer a few questions about the young wing. Here's what he had to say.
On Hamilton's strengths:
Hamilton has had a hard time getting teams to believe he's more than just a shooter. He was just getting into Denver's rotation the first couple months of the season and was finally able to start expanding his game as he grew more comfortable in Brian Shaw's offense. He's a bit of a streaky three-point shooter, but he has had so little time to get a good sample size that that may not be true. He was around 35% from deep for Denver, good for fifth on the squad among the leading long ball shooters.
In addition to his perimeter shooting, he can handle the ball a little bit, get in the lane, and finish with a nice runner or fadeaway. Hamilton also possesses good size for a shooting guard and can get his hands in passing lanes or pick pockets. He's an above average rebounder for a guard and even for a small forward. He played some center growing up and a nose for the ball stuck with him. He's pretty good on the offensive glass, too.
On his weaknesses:
Hamilton will tell you that he has a long way to go to shed his "bad defender" label. I was just talking with him the day before the trade about what he's working on in terms of his defense. He said his defensive stance and readiness needs to get a bit better. He's not terribly quick when moving laterally and he can lose his man while watching the ball. Shaw harped on Hamilton's defense, but valued his scoring and played him through some early rough patches and things were looking up for Hamilton.
He's not a truly gifted athlete, but he will wow with some putback dunks and can sneak into the lane and is strong enough to finish while absorbing contact. He has a bit of a mean streak and can get a touch sidetracked, like when he had enough of the Thunder's Steven Adams and took a little swing at him while running back up court after Adams put an elbow in his back (Ham got ejected and suspended one game this season).
On Hamilton being in and out of the rotation:
I was working on a story about this very topic the night before the trade. Hamilton went from played about 20 minutes a night in Nov. and Dec. to being benched in January, right after the Andre Miller saga, and racking up eight DNP-CD's. Shaw claims that he was just giving others guys a shot and wasn't happy with the defensive side of Ham's game. Hamilton seemed a little perplexed by the benching, but said he thought Coach was trying to get other guys an opportunity. Hamilton also told me that he was going to keep working hard and since he was getting minutes again in Feb. it looked like Shaw was rewarding his practice habits. Looking at it again, perhaps the Nuggets were showcasing Hamilton for this very trade.
Hamilton is a good guy and a young guy. He's going to make some mistakes, but he really wants an opportunity and this trade may be the thing that ignites Hamilton.
On Hamilton's ability to play both wing positions:
He split time between shooting guard and small forward under Shaw. I like his size on the smaller, quicker guards and think he'll have to work hard to defend guys if he plays the two, but that's his natural position. He has the strength to cover small forwards and should be a very nice fit there in the Rockets' system with James Harden and whichever point guard is out there.
On anything else we should know about him:
He is a very interesting guy. He considers himself a skateboarder, but he had to give that up for the NBA. He comes from a hoops family: his older brother Gary played at the University of Miami and plays overseas currently, Jordan with your Rockets, Isaac Hamilton is sitting out a season before he joins UCLA, and Daniel Hamilton is committed to UCONN - pretty amazing. He goes by J_GOIN_HAM on Twitter and I found myself saying: J about to go Ham whenever he checked into games, got rebounds, took a shot, or any other time he did anything. I also sat down with him and talked about how he got into basketball and much more during a podcast over the summer.
Check out that podcast here.
Thanks to Nate for all his help with this!