Coming in at No. 8 on Roundball Mining Company’s #NuggetsRank list is sophomore sensation, Jordan Hamilton. To many readers this may come as as surprise and even an injustice; after all, Hamilton has yet to log an extensive stretch of significant minutes at the NBA level in his brief career. But in the eyes of our writers who watched him showcase his skill-set at Summer League, there was just no way Hamilton was going to end up being ranked any lower — and here’s why…
The thing about Jordan Hamilton — when you’re juxtaposing him alongside his teammates — is that he has a pure, innate talent for scoring the basketball, which is hard to say about anybody else. There’s a lot of players on the Nuggets roster who can score. In fact, the entire roster is loaded with guys who can net 15-20 points any given night. But not many of those are players, if any, are pure scorers. Jordan Hamilton, we feel, is that type of deadly offensive threat that this Nuggets team may very well be lacking.
You could make a case that right now, Jordan Hamilton is the best shooter on the entire Nuggets roster. Whether this is actually true is up for debate. But the fact is, you can make the case. Nuggets fans already saw Hamilton light it up from downtown in only the first half of the very first preseason game of his career. At Summer League in Las Vegas he shot .38 percent from 3-point range, taking no less than five 3-point attempts per game. During his entire rookie year Hamilton shot .362 percent from beyond the arc.
This isn’t anything to write home about, really. After all, Ty Lawson has a career 3-point average of .388 percent and Gallinari, while seeing his long-distance shooting percentage dip every year since coming in the league, still has a respectable .368 career percentage from deep.
The difference: Jordan Hamilton makes tough 3-point shots and he likes it. He hunts after it. It’s what he’s good at; not what he’s forced to do in order to beat the shot clock or execute a play. Jordan Hamilton is the type of guy who, much like former Nugget, J.R. Smith, is a threat to go off every night that he steps on the floor. As decent as Andre Iguodala, Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari are at making the three, none have incorporated it into their arsenal over the last few years the way Jordan Hamilton looks to be already doing this year. With those guys, it was always just a way to score; with Hamilton, it’s a way to kill you.
In addition to hitting the three with accuracy, Hamilton has a nice mid-range game and can get to the basket when he puts his mind to it. He’s also an excellent rebounder for his size and has shown an enticing ability to distribute on more than one occasion.
Where Hamilton needs to improve is with his decision making and defense. Often times, again like J.R. Smith, Hamilton doesn’t know when to stop — when to finish off a nice hot streak or instead hoist up one too many ill-advised shots. This maturation should come in due time, however this is something that has followed Hamilton throughout his career up to this point, which is somewhat of a cause for concern. If Hamilton can mitigate these “rookie” mistakes by playing rugged defense, his court time and standing with George Karl should be more than secure.
This year’s Nuggets squad has many different and intriguing storylines: How will Faried develop? Will Lawson emerge as a true leader? Will McGee finally reach his potential that went untapped in Washington? These are all valid and fascinating narratives. But Jordan Hamilton is perhaps the most interesting of them all when you consider how little we really know about him and at the same time, how truly talented he is.
Is Hamilton the J.R. Smith Nuggets fans always wanted J.R. Smith to actually be? If the answer to that question is “yes,” then Nuggets fans may finally be able to close the book on one of the most beloved players in recent Nuggets history (J.R. Smith), while simultaneously opening an even better book altogether in Jordan Hamilton.