What can we expect from Jordan Hamilton in the 2012-13 season?

Although he already spent his rookie season with the Nuggets, Jordan Hamilton may be Denver’s most important new addition next season. New, at least, in the sense of being a regular rotation player who wasn’t in the mix in any meaningful way last season. Front office exec Masai Ujiri has already described Hamilton as “our rookie for next year” and it may be the case that the Nuggets organization views him as the replacement for Rudy Fernandez, or at least the player Rudy might have been for Denver had he not suffered a season ending injury.

In the 31 games Fernandez did play in, he averaged 23 minutes, and was primarily utilized (with varying degrees of effectiveness) as an offensive spark and energy player off the bench. With the anticipated healthy return of Wilson Chandler and Al Harrington to the rotation, and the re-signing of Andre Miller, who sometimes plays shooting guard alongside Ty Lawson, it’s difficult to imagine that Hamilton will get as many minutes as Rudy, or even crack twenty.

Even so, it does appear that the Nuggets intend to play him, which in turn raises the question of what kind of player we might expect J-Ham to be.

I was recently discussing this matter with various Nuggets fans on twitter. @Smooth_Operatah isn’t really sold on Hamilton, and feels that the warning signs in his college stats overshadow the encouraging signs in his NBA stats, particularly due to the small sample size of the latter. @SlickRickDaFish is of the opinion that the inclusion of J-Ham’s disappointing freshman season in his college numbers invalidates their significance.

I consider both of these points to be arguably valid. Hamilton’s NBA stats may be statistically insignificant (ie. they can’t really be used to demonstrate or predict anything beyond random chance), and anything prior to that may be insignificant in the regular sense of not meaning much. For example, he dropped to the Nuggets in the draft due mainly to “attitude”, but by all accounts he’s been one of the hardest working Nuggets this summer, and he had no reported disciplinary problems over the course of his rookie season. At the very least, the rap on him as a draft prospect doesn’t syncopate with what we’ve been seeing from him recently.

So basically this puts us in a bad spot in terms of making predictions, as we mostly have only insufficient or largely irrelevant data to work with. It’s just really difficult at this point to have any idea what kind of player Hamilton will turn into this season if and when given a bigger role.

Personally, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt until he proves he no longer deserves it. The front office and coaching staff seem confident that he’s capable of success, and ready to entrust him with a larger role, and for the time being I’m willing to provisionally take their word for it. And that’s not blind trust. They have a good track record with player development and targeting under-the-radar contributors.

Beyond that, several observations can be made in J-Ham’s favor or detriment. He definitely has range, but he’s also shown poor shot selection (to the extent that some have even compared him to J.R. Smith). He clearly has the knack for pulling down boards and the potential to be a great rebounding guard, but what he’s shown o defense so far leaves a lot to be desired. It’s my impression that his skill set is there, and that a lot of his negatives are coachable. If I’m right about this, then a lot of J-Ham’s 2012-13 success will ride on how good of a learner he is, and how receptive to coaching he is.

If he can learn to improve his shot selection and work within the flow of the offense, I think he’ll emerge as a relatively efficient shooter. If he can learn how to properly play in the team defense, rotate quickly, and play hard, he should be able to earn GK’s trust to keep him on the floor.

Thus far this summer, all signs point to him being dedicated to improvement, training hard and taking this opportunity seriously. Until we get a few weeks into the regular season, we won’t really get a clear picture of exactly what kind of NBA player Jordan Hamilton is developing into, but I’m cautiously optimistic that he’ll make some good progress in his sophomore year.

Below are two videos I compiled. The video of his Summer League performance against the Knicks is hot off the press, and is more of a “warts and all” clip reel. The rookie highlights vid is more of an “only the good stuff” reel. My video making skills are not very good, and I don’t do any of the analysis of the kind you’re used to hearing from Jeremy, but I hope you’ll enjoy them for what they’re worth.

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Joel is a long time Denver Nuggets (and Broncos) fan from Colorado who's been living in Japan since the mid-90s, and blogging about the Nuggets since 2008. You can contact and follow him on Twitter: @denbutsu.
  • ThomasDenverFan

    Great article i think he is a Muah more improved and more focused person than.JR smith and i think he will do more than.people expect he has a great drive to work on things

  • dynamo.joe

    Jham had 258 minutes last year. I know a lot of people look at 500 minutes as the minimum threshold for statistical signifigance, but 258 is still a pretty good look.

    I think the 500 comes from 35 games at bench player minutes. 35 being a sort of shorthand for statistical infinity. Feel free to correct me if you know different.

    Anyway my point is 258 opens you to more variation, but is still a decent sample size for spotting trends.

    What the numbers say is Hamilton is a good shooter and a great rebounder (for his position). He doesn’t get to the line because he doesn’t get into the paint (highlight of the year type dunk not withstanding). And here small sample size does bite you in the ass, he was 2 or 5 from the line. That really could just be random.

    What does that all add up to? Basically it adds up to a guy who will be an average to slightly above average G/F coming off the Nuggets bench this year and likely improving in subsequent years.

    • dynamo.joe

      Oh, I forgot my biggest gripe, which is that this should have been “The Year of Stone”, if not for this mystery injury, which I have still not seen any details on.

      • Charlie

        No details because it was never discussed, announced or officially reported when it happened. Stone did have the surgery in early July and it’s a torn labrum, which generally takes about 5 months to return to 100% from.

        Wilson Chandler had the same surgery in the middle of May, and just started light jogging 3 weeks ago. His rehab is ongoing and he’s expected to be at full strength by training camp. If you apply the same timetable to Stone he could be running sometime in September and possibly be at full strength by late November, which means he could good to go for a majority of next season

        • dynamo.joe

          I wasn’t trying to call out RMC or anything. I just think it’s weird that we live in this 24/7 sports journalism world and nobody says boo about a major injury to a pro player.

          You would think that the team would issue a statement or Hochman or somebody would write something.

  • Sky67

    Ya I was hoping stone could have a breakout year and I want to keep him around but I think he’ll get waived for Quincy which I’m also okay with. and didn’t johnny Flynn have a hip injurie cause he never really recovered his speed/agility from that and I hope that won’t be the case with julyan.

  • Misty

    Syncopate? Really? Hope that was an autocorrect of “sync up to.” Not trying to be a troll, but that was really distracting in an otherwise insightful piece.

    • https://twitter.com/denbutsu denbutsu

      Okay, you got me. Guilty as charged. I meant to say “doesn’t sync with” as in “isn’t consistent with”. I probably should have said “jibe”. I’ve tried to be careful about editing the few posts I’ve made here so far, and I’ll continue to do my best. Unfortunately, I probably can’t promise perfection, but I do appreciate the correction, so thank you for pointing it out.

  • bob

    nice music in the first, love me some Jaco/Scofield :)

    • https://twitter.com/denbutsu denbutsu

      Glad you like it!

  • CJP32

    I really cannot see JHam getting significant minutes this season UNLESS there is an injury to Afflalo, Gallo, Chandler, Brewer or Andre. JHam needs to realise that GK will play those other guys first before giving JHam an opportunity.

    I agree that JHam has scoring potential, but I think it will be another 2-3 years before we see that (if he remains in Denver). His FG% in College was not fantastic – 43% and he wasn’t exactly a dominant scorer either – 18ppg in his 2nd season.

    I like the kid and I think on the right team he could average double figures, but on this squad, its gonna be tough for him.

    Who knows, maybe Afflalo, Gallo, Brewer, Chandler will be traded this season or before camp starts and it allows JHam to get a chance…not sure but we do have alot of assets right now and Brewer is expiring this season so he could be gone for picks to save cap space for Ty’s extension.

    • http://5280hoopdreams.twitter.com 5280hoopdreams

      Why are Nuggets personnel coming out and saying they’re going to utilize JHam as much as they did Faried if as you say he wont get much minutes.

    • dynamo.joe

      I can’t give a rational explanation for why I think this, but I think he is going to get about 10 minutes a night + whatever garbage time/injury/foul trouble minutes he might pick up.

    • Ryan

      I would say 18ppg in college is pretty good, considering 8 fewer minutes per game and that it’s easier to get into foul trouble…

  • Nugznazty

    I’m excited for his transition game, especially his transition 3’s. Kinda has a Chauncey look to that part of his game—he slows down, looks off a defender and gets a smooth shot up.