Evaluating Jordan Hamilton and the trade deadline

If you’re a fan of the NBA, and/or human, there’s a good chance yesterday’s trade deadline left you wanting more. Evan Turner, Philadelphia’s leader scorer and a prolonged disappointment, was the best and most significant player dealt.

(That trade came at the price of Danny Granger’s feelings, when the Indiana Pacers removed his heart using the world’s sharpest grapefruit spoon, shipping a one-time franchise great from the only team he’s ever known—and a title favorite—to basketball’s own Ural Mountains. Feel better, Danny.)

Rajon Rondo did not end up in Houston. Omer Asik did not end up anywhere else. Names like Luol Deng, Iman Shumpert, Harrison Barnes, and Thaddeus Young were replaced by LaVoy Allen, Eric Maynor, Jan Vesely, and Andre Miller.

The league’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement has seen to it that draft picks and rookie scale contracts are treated with the utmost respect. Second only to the cross-cultural superstars recognized by your mother, young players who can contribute and produce without an eight figure salary are what the league is all about today. Most teams have no interest in acquiring a high-priced long-term contract, and that’s exactly what was for sale. This is fine, except when it compromises a trade deadline that at one point was entertaining theatre.

How was yesterday for Houston? The Rockets have Daryl Morey as their general manager, so of course they can proudly raise their hand as one of only a few teams to participate in an actual trade. As you already know from reading the opening line of this very article, Houston’s lone deal was uninspiring.

In exchange for third-string point guard Aaron Brooks, the Rockets received Jordan Hamilton, a below-average shooting guard from the Denver Nuggets.

A lot about this deal makes sense. With Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley comfortably holding things down at the point, Brooks was shut out of Houston’s rotation. They didn’t need him. Hamilton, on the other hand, is seven inches taller, six years younger, and can beef up what sometimes resembles a regrettable caliber of weaponry on the wing.

So, it’s time to learn more about Hamilton: strengths, weaknesses, what role he might fill, can he help in the playoffs, why his Twitter handle is so amazing, etc.

This has been Hamilton’s third season in the NBA, and his first with regular playing time. He’s appeared in 39 games with the Nuggets and started 11, averaging pedestrian numbers and shooting under 40% from the floor. The field goal percentage is bad, but shouldn’t be vilified. 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.

On defense, Hamilton’s numbers from mySynergySports are solid. He doesn’t get lost, makes timely help rotations whenever needed, possesses awareness that’d make James Harden blush (on second thought, this isn’t hard to do), and has assumed various assignments throughout the season, taking on Ricky Rubio one night and Luis Scola (for a brief stretch) the next. I guess you could call that versatility.

He isn’t a psychological pest like Tony Allen or Avery Bradley, but Hamilton does a sound job forcing his man to take jump shots off the dribble (except, according to lots of footage, when that man is Lance Stephenson). All in all he’s a so-so defender, but that still qualifies as a major upgrade over what Houston already has.

Brooks is the better player, but Hamilton brings Houston half a millimeter closer to a title, which is obviously why the deal HAD to be done. He’s 6’7” and an unrestricted free agent once the season ends, two factors that make him more valuable to Houston than Aaron Brooks, even though he isn’t fully realized as a talent.

But will Hamilton even play? The Nuggets were much better on offense with Hamilton on the bench. When he sat their efficiency level was equivalent to a top-10 unit. With him on the floor that figure dropped to the other end of the spectrum.

Ultimately, Omri Casspi and Francisco Garcia should pay the closest attention to this trade, as its one of those two (particularly Garcia) who Hamilton could eventually supplant in the rotation. Both have been inconsistent this season, and, in Garcia’s case, nearly useless when shots aren’t falling.

Hamilton’s ceiling appears to be that of a modestly athletic 3-and-D guy, which is exactly what Houston needs the most. The trade was uneventful, but that doesn’t mean Hamilton won’t have a moment in the playoffs.

Michael Pina is a writer for Red94, CelticsHub, The Classical, Bleacher Report, Sports On Earth, and Boston Magazine. Follow him here.

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Total comments: 5
  • Jatman20 says 5 months ago Rockets left corner 3:
    DMo-3/9..................33.3%
    Lin-3/8....................37.5%
    Jones-5/12.............41.7%
    Casspi-6/16............37.5%
    Garcia- 6/23...........26.1%
    Bev-13/34...............38.2%
    Parsons-9/22...........41%

    Hamilton-7/11..........63.6% (2 makes shy of Parsons)

    Take away the straight-away 3P attempts (1-12) from Hamilton and he is 38%. Parsons currently 39.8% from 3.
    So the easy fix is keeping Hamilton from shooting the straight-away 3.....unless he proves he can make it in practice.
    Morey will put him in the best places to fit his strengths. More switches on defense between Parsons and Hamilton somewhat like Paul George and Stephenson or LeBron and D-Wade.......possibly. I like the move considering the combo guards in the league like Livingston, MCW, Rivers
    and those that will be coming like Exum (6'5") Dinwiddle (6'6") Kyle Anderson (6'9") Jerian Grant (6'5") Jake Odum (6'4") Marcus Smart (6'4")
    Kendall Williams (6'4") Andrew Harrison (6'6").....try out Hamilton or draft one of these guys.....maybe Kostas (next year) can D-up against them.
  • Buckko says 5 months ago

    Well there are a couple players in the same situation, like Glen Davis and they said a couple top teams he could join are LA and the spurs.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 5 months ago If granger is bought out soon and goes to the heat, the heat will have a much better chance to repeat.
  • Jatman20 says 5 months ago Nice research.....never thought Hamilton could guard a Scola or Rubio for any stretch. That is what I was looking for; a good spot up shooter or a shooting guard that might help defend the SF/SG/PG. Fight thru screens better than Beverley/Lin/AB in the playoffs. You know Parker/Conley/Chris Paul/Westbrook-Reggie Jackson/Curry will get tons of screens. Like Iggy (GS Warriors) asked to defend the 1,2 & 3 ( not expecting that good of D)
    I wanted Bradley or Anthony Morrow....like Morrow, Hamilton will be an experiment to see what he can do while teamed with a D12/Harden/Lin ect.
    Morey always finds hidden gems......if it works we can re-sign him to help shore up our second team next year; if not, his money comes off the books in the form of free agency. Loved AB; but his D was horrific....Lets be honest.
  • Sir Thursday says 5 months ago

    Am I the only person who actually enjoyed this year's trade deadline? Minor deals like the ones made this year are still important to the teams involved, even if nobody on the national level cares. Frankly I find blockbuster deals to be tiresome sometimes, especially if they dramatically shift the title race in a certain direction (I'm looking at you, Pau Gasol). But teams tinkering to fill in the holes in their rotation is still valid and useful for all the fanbases involved and indicative of the fact that many of the contenders like where their teams are right now.

    I like my team and this was the upgrade I wanted them to make, so from my point of view this was mission accomplished rather than 'uninspiring'. I'm sure there are fans in Washington (who needed a backup PG and got one) and Indiana (who needed an upgrade over Granger) and Golden State (who needed a backup PG and got one) and Charlotte (who needed a three point shooter and got one) and Philadelphia (who needed all the picks they can get their hands on and got...most of them) that feel the same way. IMO this deadline can only be called boring if you find the current NBA landscape boring (since that's what it left us with, and from my point of view it's anything but.

    ST