#NuggetsRank No. 8: Jordan Hamilton

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.

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  • blackhill

    I hope you guys are right about him.

  • CJP32

    To me, JHam has an opportunity to be the top scorer off the bench for Denver. The only thing stopping that is himself – he needs to not just focus on shooting threes, but also working on defense and making plays away from the ball. Sure he has a nice stroke, but in this system that GK operates, defense comes first, in practise and in games.

    Also, Corey Brewer is gonna make damn sure that if JHam gets minutes before him, he’s gonna have to work for it!

    JHam can easily average 12-15ppg, but it all comes down to who works harder on the other end. I feel that some nights, Brewer will get the nod, and other nights JHam will – and thats a good luxury to have.

    • http://Denverstiffs.comSlader Richard Greenslade (Slader)

      CJP32 has got it right.
      I would add that Brewer might be the better choice to protect a lead, while Hamilton would get the nod to light a fire if the offence bogs down.
      It will also depend on how Hamilton interacts with the PGs: Corey is very adaptable and GK might well prefer him to have Dre Miller’s back on D; but I don’t know yet if JHam works better with Ty or Dre – time will tell.

    • josh

      From the sounds of it he really worked hard on defense this off-season I hope maybe by deadline we can package a deal to free up more court timefor him

  • ryanvdonk

    might not be for this year, but if j-ham is going to be playing shooting guard for us, it would be interesting to see if he can develop a post a game to take advantage of his size. we have seen players like gary payton and kobe both add this to their repertoire, and could be another piece for a gifted scorer.

    • https://twitter.com/denbutsu denbutsu

      If any of the current Nuggets guards have a promising future in developing a post game, I’d argue that Stone is the most likely candidate. I wrote a bit about this in his #NuggetsRank writeup. He seems, at times, to somewhat naturally gravitate to a back-to-the-basket post up position. It looks like it’s really within his comfort zone, and as a player who at least up to this point hasn’t demonstrated much range, it seems reasonable to think that that might be one of his best areas to develop in terms of finding an offensive niche.

      Encouragingly, as Benjamin Hochman recently wrote about in the Post (link below), John Welch is making Stone take 1,700 shots a day. Once he returns to health, if injuries or Karl’s whims allow him some minutes, it will be interesting to see if this fairly intense practice regime translates in real game action.

      As for J-Ham, it’s really interesting how great of a rebounder he seems to be given the amount of time he spends on the perimeter. What an asset for the Nuggets to have a guard who can effectively clean up some of those missed 3-pointers.

      Here’s the John Welch link: http://www.denverpost.com/nuggets/ci_21716375/john-welch-is-denver-nuggets-workaholic-assistant-coach

      • SmokinNugs

        Great article on Welch

  • http://yahoo mile high

    I don’t know why but it seems like there are 2 particular Nuggets who would always be getting preferential treatments from Denver’s media types and bloggers alike. One is Javale McGee who is benefiting from all the hyperbole and is now getting a big fat cheque from the usually stringent Denvor FO. The other one is JHam, who’s not so hot Summer league performance is suddenly sounding like a MVP type showing.

    I sure hope you guys are right about JHam this time.

  • Misty

    “one of the most beloved players in recent Nuggets history (J.R. Smith)”

    Really, now. That’s taking hyperbole to a new level. Helps me understand how you’ve ranked an unproven player so high – you have a penchant for flawed characters and an overwhelming sense of optimism.

    That being said, I agree with the other repliers – I hope you’re right about Hamilton.

  • DH

    I agree with just about everything that Kalen said, and I expect a significant (and sorely needed) scoring contribution from JHam this season IF he can get minutes. But I still have no idea whether JHam can guard anyone, and I think that will determine how much he plays. So I would have to rank Brewer ahead of him until it’s proven that Hamilton can guard, especially given the fact that Brew seems to be finding his outside shot (yes, on limited evidence, but still). To put it another way, it’s a given that Brewer will provide energy, defense, movement, and pace. If he’s semi-reliable on open 3’s, too, then that puts him well ahead of Hamilton for now, unless JHam proves he can play solid defense. I agree with those who say that either JHam or Brewer will/should play depending on situations and matchups. But I think Hamilton will have to prove himself a little more before he’s ahead of Brewer overall.

    With that said, I really hope JHam and Randolph can get enough minutes to at least show what we have. We need that JR-type natural scorer (as long as we don’t suffer too much on the other end) and we need a taller PF option for some situations (or maybe even an athletic, mobile backup C). I want to see if these are the guys to fill those needs.

    • CJP32

      One positive from the Clippers game was that JHam and Brewer combined for 33 points in just 41 mins, with a combined 5 made threes. At one point from the end of the 1st Qtr to middle of the 2nd Qtr, these two guys outscored LA 19-4 by themselves. Maybe they are a good 1-2 combo off the bench? Defense, energy, threes, transition scoring – certainly a good option for GK to have.

      However, it all comes down to Wilson Chandlers health. Can he play 25-30 mpg, especially on back-to-backs? Or will there be nights when Brewer gets 20 mins or JHam gets 20 mins?

  • Ban Johnson

    Hollinger just picked Nuggets to finish 2nd in West, ahead of Lakers and Thunder?!!

    So much for being underrated.

  • slugdugg

    Wow

  • John

    Can anyone with espn insider please repost the hollinger article from this morning

  • ryanvdonk

    my predictions for the rest of the ranks:
    7. Wilson Chandler
    6. Andre Miller
    5. Javale McGee
    4. Kenneth Faried
    3. Danillo Gallinari
    2. Andre Iguodala
    1. Ty Lawson (as he goes, we go)

    • Evan Woodruff

      It’s pretty obvious that Iggy is first….

  • Z

    1. Ty
    2.Iguodala
    3.Chandler
    4.Gallo
    5.McGee
    6.Miller
    7.Faried

    Faried all hustle at this point of his career but i see Nuggets fans are high on him \

    • GK4Prez

      Ty
      Gallo
      Dala
      Faried
      Miller
      Chandler
      Javale

  • Z

    coach Karl had more talent then this and couldnt get it done we’ll see how he does with this younger more athletic team but the Head games he plays with his better players will be a factor in this season

  • Ban Johnson

    Overview

    Whooooosh!

    Here come the Nuggets, ready or not, hell-bent on trying to prove you can win big without a superstar, and doing it with one of the most unique attacks in basketball: a turbo-paced, foul-drawing, defense-carving firestorm that needs only an elite shooter or two to be the best one in the game … yes, even without a superstar.

    Denver general manager Masai Ujiri has done an amazing job of rebuilding, turning the Carmelo Anthony-Chauncey Billups-Nene Nuggets into a 12-deep outfit that somehow has a payroll of just $63 million. Adding Andre Iguodala this summer to what was already the league’s most potent open-court team makes the Nuggets scary interlopers in the presumed Thunder-Spurs-Lakers hierarchy in the West (more on that in a minute).

    HOLLINGER’S PLAYER PROFILES

    Check out Hollinger’s player scouting reports and ’12-13 stat projections for the Nuggets’ roster. Player Profiles Insider

    In the meantime, one can’t help but be impressed with all the roster flexibility the Nuggets have maintained while building this juggernaut. They should be able to keep this group together for several years, if they choose, while staying under the luxury tax. But they also are in a position in which they could lump together multiple assets for a genuine star — the Melo trade in reverse, if you will, except with better terms.

    The defense was the biggest obstacle last season, but acquiring one of the league’s best wing defenders in Iguodala will go a long way toward remedying that deficiency. So will the return of Wilson Chandler from a lost 2011-12 season, and another year of experience for the young frontcourt combo of Kosta Koufos and Kenneth Faried.

    We need to talk more about these two. Koufos might be the single most underrated player in the league at this point (and, better yet, is signed for just $3 million for each of the next three seasons), while Faried’s high-energy game made him one of the league’s most impactful rookies. Each started for only half the season, but both should be fixtures going forward.

    Denver also has some other potential sources of breakout years. Off the bench, tantalizing but frustrating shot-blockers Anthony Randolph and JaVale McGee offer intrigue; McGee, in particular, seemed like he was turning the corner at the end of last season. So do the Nuggets’ past two first-rounders, Jordan Hamilton and Evan Fournier.

    2011-12 Recap

    Ty Lawson and Andre MillerGarrett W. Ellwood/Getty ImagesCharged by points Ty Lawson and Andre Miller, Denver’s powerful offense pushed it to the 6-seed.

    The big-picture view is a great start, a wobbly middle and an encouraging ending that saw the Nuggets take the Lakers to seven games in the first round of the playoffs. Look closer, though, and you’ll see it more as an exercise in quick thinking that got Denver out of a couple of tight spots cap-wise. The Nuggets overpaid to keep two key players, Nene and Arron Afflalo, but both disappointed last season — Nene by sitting out with minor injuries, Afflalo by shirking the defense that had made him a rotation player in the first place. Saddled with a five-year commitment to each that would take up a third of the salary cap, the Nuggets moved Nene at the trade deadline and Afflalo after the season (more on that below).

    HOLLINGER’S ’11-12 STATS

    W-L: 38-28 (Pythagorean W-L: 41-25)
    Offensive Efficiency: 106.5 (3rd)
    Defensive Efficiency: 103.4 (19th)
    Pace Factor: 96.6 (2nd)
    Highest PER: Kenneth Faried (21.94)

    Meanwhile, the statistical story was an overpowering offense making up (usually) for an overly permissive defense. The Nuggets ranked third in offensive efficiency by relentlessly attacking the basket, finished second in the league in free throw rate and led the league by a wide margin in 2-point shooting percentage (see chart). Ty Lawson’s breakneck speed was the catalyst, but Andre Miller also thrived in the up-tempo game, and in the half court, Danilo Gallinari was an aggressive foul magnet. (Commonly described as a long-range shooting specialist, Gallinari has not shot particularly well as a Nugget, but he has drawn fouls by the bushel.)

    2-point FG% Leaders, 2011-12
    Team 2-pt FG%
    Denver 52.2
    Oklahoma City 50.9
    San Antonio 50.7
    Miami 49.6
    Phoenix 49.4

    Once active bigs who can finish, such as Faried and Koufos and blazing wing Corey Brewer, got in the lineup, the Nuggets doubled down in this department. Al Harrington helped in the half court with a Fluke Rule season, and Afflalo had his best offensive season.

    In the end, the only reason Denver wasn’t the league’s best offense was that it couldn’t make 3s. The Nuggets hit only 33.3 percent from behind the arc, 24th best in the league, and the departed Afflalo was the only regular to make more than a third of his tries. This, obviously, is a lingering problem heading into 2012-13, and the hope is that Iguodala (39.4 percent last season but just 33.1 percent in his career) and improvement from Gallinari can provide enough floor spacing to continue the Nuggets’ full-scale assault on the rim. As for the defense, the Nuggets simply must get better at this end. In particular, their 3-point defense was a complete disaster. Denver was last in both preventing 3-point attempts and forcing misses on them; opponents took more than a quarter of their shots from beyond the arc and shot a blistering 38.3 percent from there (see chart).
    Worst 3-point Defenses, 2011-12
    Team Opp 3A/FGA Rank Opp 3-pt. % Rank
    Denver .267 30 .383 30
    Miami .250 28 .363 26
    Golden State .236 21 .365 28
    L.A. Clippers .247 27 .365 27
    New York .236 22 .359 23
    League average .226 .349

    To understand how far Denver was outside the norm here, consider that the difference between the Nuggets (571 3-pointers allowed) and No. 29 Miami was greater than the difference between 29th and fifth. A merely average 3-point defense would have saved Denver about two points per game and put it at the league average overall.

    This was partly because the Nuggets liked to junk things up at times and play Harrington at center, which necessitated copious double-teaming in the paint. That won’t be an option this season, nor should it be with three playable centers. But Denver also needs to tighten up its wing defense (where Iguodala should be a huge upgrade on Afflalo) and match up better in transition — difficult, yes, when the Nuggets are racing upcourt and the guards are constantly penetrating, but also essential.

    Offseason Moves

    Andre IguodalaGarrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty ImagesWith Andre Iguodala, a top wing defender, in the fold, the Nuggets hope to shore up their defense.

    Denver was involved in one blockbuster trade, but otherwise it was a fairly quiet offseason, as the Nuggets sought to build on an encouraging 2011-12.

    Traded Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington and a 2014 first-rounder for Andre Iguodala: While one can argue the Nuggets shouldn’t have helped the Lakers get Dwight Howard, it’s easier to stomach by looking at how much they helped themselves. This was a great deal, allowing them to dump their two worst contracts in exchange for the shorter commitment to Iguodala while also upgrading their single most glaring weakness (wing defense) with a player whose open-court excellence should fit in perfectly.

    Let Rudy Fernandez go, drafted Evan Fournier, Quincy Miller and Izzet Turkyilmaz: Fernandez was basically biding his time until he could go back to Spain, and in his place the Nuggets insert the Frenchman Fournier. He is unlikely to play much this year and replicates Denver’s other weaknesses — a perimeter marksman he ain’t — but his scoring skill will keep him in the league somewhere. As for Miller, he was a strong value play in the second round, but as with Fournier the payoff is likely down the road rather than immediate. Turkyilmaz is a project big who will stay overseas.

    Signed Wilson Chandler for five years, $31 million: Technically this happened last spring, but we can talk about it now since it primarily affects the coming season. While the shortened first season and the non-guaranteed last effectively make this a three-year, $21 million deal, it’s still a potential problem. Chandler played terribly when he came back from China last season, and the Nuggets have a logjam of athletic-but-erratic small forwards that they need to parlay into another skill player or two. He’s a fine player and the contract isn’t outrageous in a vacuum, but I’m not sure he’s a great fit here. Ideally, he’ll play well enough in the first half of the season for Denver to package him at midseason and get a piece that’s more complementary to the existing nucleus.

    Re-signed JaVale McGee for four years, $44 million: The Nuggets knew they’d be paying McGee when they traded Nene for him at the deadline, but they saved a few ducats and got a bit more youth and upside on the exchange. Denver is paying for potential here — yes, McGee had a great PER last season, but his defensive stats are suspect (great shot-blocking, lots of opponent baskets in between) and his basketball IQ needs to make some serious progress to justify the contract. All that said, virtually any team in this situation would have done the same thing; 7-footers with McGee’s physical gifts don’t grow on trees.

    Re-signed Andre Miller for three years, $14.6 million: Miller’s decline last season was a bit worrying, but the Nuggets shielded themselves with a mostly non-guaranteed third season that could become a very valuable trade chip. (Fun fact: Among Koufos, Miller and Chandler, the Nuggets potentially have about $7 million in non-guaranteed money to put into trades in both 2015 and 2016. We’re a couple of years out, but keep an eye on this.)

    Used amnesty on Chris Andersen; signed Anthony Randolph for three years, $5 million: It was a bit surprising to see the Nuggets use the amnesty on Andersen, as he was pretty good when he played last season and there were no genuine savings because they were over the cap and under the tax. However, Andersen was the only amnesty-eligible player on whom it was at all plausible for them to use it, and they needed the roster spot more than they needed a fourth center. They probably were hoping another team would claim Andersen and save them a few bucks, but nobody did.

    As for Randolph, he amounts to a bargain upside play. The hope is that he can provide Denver with a genuine backup 4 to replace Harrington while cashing in on his considerable potential in an up-tempo environment that should play to his strengths. Randolph has been an immensely frustrating player, but at this price and at this length, the Nuggets give themselves relatively little downside and a potentially huge upside.

    2012-13 Outlook

    Kenneth FariedGarrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesKenneth Faried and the running and gunning Nuggets are hoping to mine (title) gold in 2012-13.

    Yes, that would be me leading the Nuggets’ bandwagon again. (At least, if Kevin Pelton doesn’t steal the reins.) Everybody is sleeping on this team, which is almost understandable given all the news out of L.A. But look at this roster: In the regular season in particular, I expect the Nuggets to be a hellish opponent with an explosive offense, enviable depth and one of the league’s most improved defenses.

    My main concern is the 3-point shooting. Iguodala is likely to regress from the 39.4 percent he shot from 3 last season, and nobody save Gallinari has any track record of shooting effectively from outside. Second-year pro Jordan Hamilton might be of some help here, particularly if Denver opts to play small with Gallinari at the 4 for long stretches.

    But otherwise, it’s tough to argue with an attack led by Lawson and Miller and in which all 10 rotation players can score. There’s no traditional “go-to” guy, and that might cause a few problems with the crunch-time offense. But Gallinari had an All-Star caliber start to last season, and if he stays healthy, he could become more of a focal point this season.

    Besides, any focus here is eyeballing the wrong side of the floor. Denver had an awesome offense in 2011-12 without 3-point shooting or a go-to guy, so apparently it’s not a big deal. The bigger limitation is at the defensive end, which is why the Iguodala move is so exciting. Denver was only 19th in defensive efficiency last season, but getting one of the league’s best defensive players should improve that ranking considerably. So, too, will development from the Nuggets’ younger players, particularly the frontcourt combination of Faried and Koufos.

    The Nuggets will challenge for the top seed in the West, but things get more problematic for this team in the postseason, in which a deep bench is of less value than raw star power. Nonetheless, if I were going to drop a few dollars in Vegas on a long shot to win the title, this would absolutely be my play. More likely, the Nuggets won’t survive more than a round against the West’s heavy hitters come playoff time. Nonetheless, Ujiri and company have done a fantastic job of building a young, cap-friendly, long-term contender from the ashes of the Melo trade. Ignore Denver at your peril.

    Prediction: 59-23, 1st in Northwest, 2nd in Western Conference

    • jim

      i love it, but…really? there’s about 50 things that have to fall the right way, but sure. it could happen.

      i’ll definitely have whatever he is smoking!

    • Nugznazty

      I cant believe people underrate Ty Lawsons 3 point shooting. He hit 10 in a row… he’s a record holder

    • the bear

      i love the hype and all the preseason analysis and discussion, but this team is such a mystery that we really just have to wait and see how it plays out on the court. yes they’re deep, and talented, and athletic. will it mean wins? yes, playoffs certainly.
      but lets not get ahead of ourselves and say the nuggets can finish ahead of both the thunder and the lakers. thats a tall task. i would love, and will be cheering louder than anyone, but i think that the team needs to answer all this promise with on-court production before anything.
      (also, i live in CA, and i bet my boss, who is a blazers fan, a six-pack the nuggets would finish with home court, hope im right)

  • PDX Contingent

    Good write up about Hamilton, but…. I don’t understand everyone hoping that Hamilton becomes a more disciplined JR. If you look at players like JR, Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford, etc., there role is to come off the bench and be spark plugs. What makes them good, but not great, is there ability to put the ball in the basket and not worry about the last shot that they just made or missed. I believe that you get the good with the bad in those types of players.
    What if we aspire for J-Ham to be something better? If he really is as good of a shooter as everyone seems to believe, why not hope that he becomes a Ray Allen type player. Someone that shoots lights out, can move without the ball and uses his athleticism to take people by surprise like old school Ray Allen used to. He would have the leg up in that he is much stronger than Allen and has the potential to be a better on ball defender, but does anyone remember Allen’s days in Milwaukee and especially Seattle? Shouldn’t the coaching staff be filling his locker with He Got Game excerpts and old Ray Allen film? If J-Ham turns into a poor man’s Jesus Shuttlesworth, I think the Nuggets have their wing player for sometime to come. Thoughts?

    • Kalen

      Well, there is a huge difference between those two. Obviously it’s hard comparing anyone to Ray Allen because he’s the best 3-point shooter of all time. And in terms of talent, Ray Allen is superior by a large margin. The thing about Allen is that he always had a solid basketball mind on top of his shoulders. I don’t know if Hamilton has that just yet. Once he develops it then maybe you could start comparing him to Ray Allen with certain aspects of his game… We’ll have to wait and see though.

      • nugswin

        From what I’ve seen of Hamilton (some of this season’s summer league and the Clippers game in vegas) he’s really lacking in using his size/athleticism on defense. He’s just not physical nor does he move his feet well laterally (he didn’t anticipate well so was always reacting and thus trailing). But it does look like he has the potential to do both and become a solid defender. If so he could be a mainstay in the rotation, for sure.

        Comparisons to Ray Allen aren’t apt though. Allen’s great shooting and the fact that he competed with the superior Kobe Bryant (and those two on the heels of Jordan) masked his high level of athleticism. He was always a strong defender and finisher at the rim. Hamilton is tall but not on the tier of athlete that Ray Allen was/is.