Examining the first two games of Houston Rockets forward Jordan Hamilton

Hours before the trade deadline struck, I said that Daryl Morey needed to come out from that day with a viable backup swingman.  In watching Jordan Hamilton in his first two games as a Houston Rocket, it appears the Rockets’ GM was successful on that goal.  The biggest surprises thus far aren’t that Hamilton can play but 1) that he is playing and 2) that he is knocking down his 3’s.

I and a few others predicted that it would be some time before Hamilton got burn, with the thinking that Kevin McHale would not want to tinker with a winning formula.  But backups Francisco Garcia and Omri Casspi have both been so egregiously horrible of late that Hamilton has been thrust almost immediately into the fire.  On Tuesday against the Kings, Hamilton hit 4-7 from the field, including 2-3 from deep, en route to 12 points off the bench.  He followed that up last night by dropping in 16, with 4-8 accuracy on 3’s.

After the acquisition, the red flag on Hamilton was long range shooting where, at that point, he had made just 35% of his attempts.  Here is Michael Pina on the day of the acquisition:

Even though he’s only shooting 34.9% from behind the arc this season, Hamilton’s three-point shot is likely what caught Morey’s eye. For every two field goals Hamilton attempted, one three-pointer was launched. Good news, considering he’s an eagle eye from the corner (46.7% on 30 attempts).

Thanks to Dwight Howard’s presence and Houston’s up and down style, Hamilton should see more open looks than ever before. He was already 39.5% on catch-and-shoot threes while playing in an average offense with no real playmakers aside from Ty Lawson and (maybe) Evan Fournier. That’s decent, not great. But it should rise even higher once he’s afforded more open looks off the play-making genius of Harden, Parsons, and Lin.

Hamilton is now a scorching 6-11 from 3 since joining the team.  I went back to the box score and re-watched every one of those eleven attempts.  One of them was an end of quarter desperation heave.  All of the other ten were almost wide-open catch and shoots.  Four of those were from the elbow angle.  Five were from the corner.  One was from straight up top.

Hamilton missed the 3 from up top.  He made 3 of 4 from the elbow angle.  He made 3 of 5 from the corner.

It’s odd that Hamilton’s overall shooting numbers with Denver were so poor: at a basic glance, he seems to have good form, at least better than Parsons.  His elbow is in, feet are set, and follow-through and arc are sound.  His struggles, upon the early returns, would appear to be a product of Denver’s system where he might not have been afforded the daylight he has seen here in his first two games.  If Hamilton continues his selectivity from the corners, this might turn out to be yet another case of Daryl Morey finding value beneath the surface numbers.

Lastly, this is a little bit more of what he can do:

This type of slashing and athleticism, packaged into legitimate size is why Hamilton is even in the NBA.  The shooting is why Denver seems to have thrown him away.  The returns are early, but if he can continue to capitalize upon open looks from choice locations (ie: corner catch and shoots) and slash off pump fakes, Houston will have shored up its most glaring weakness at the cost of a third string point guard.  We will continue to keep an eye on this development, but for now, it looks like Morey struck gold from the trash heap yet again.

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About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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