Yesterday, the New Orleans Pelicans signed Jordan Hamilton to a 10-day contract via the hardship exemption, thereby allowing the team to expand their roster to 17 players. Considering the wide array of injuries, it's worth taking a closer look at him since he'll likely enjoy meaningful minutes during this final stretch of the season.
Two offseason's ago, we took a look at Hamilton as a potential candidate to help fill the rather large vacancy at small forward. Admittedly, his numbers were nothing to write home about, based on 1019 minutes split between stops with the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets; however, he would have likely made for a stronger candidate than either Darius Miller, a SF who failed to impress anybody and was waived approximately one month into the 2014-15 season, or John Salmons, a player well past his prime who was thankfully traded away for Norris Cole in midseason.
At various points of the 2014-15 season, Hamilton spent time with Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz but only saw action with the Los Angeles Clippers. His 122 minutes isn't a worthy sample size to gleam much from, but he did display a penchant for efficiently shooting three-pointers, a staple during his brief NBA career.
Hamilton spent most of his time last year in the NBA Developmental League, appearing in 31 games for Reno Bighorns and Iowa Energy. In an average of 27.8 minutes, Hamilton's per game numbers were quite solid: 16.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.7 threes.
This season, Hamilton has exclusively played for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the D-league after spending time in Russia, and in 14 games, he has averaged 15.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.2 threes. His advanced numbers look even better: 112.3 ORtg, 104.1 DRtg, 20.0 AST%, 27.1 DREB% and a 57.7 TS%.
For NBA comparisons this season, Hamilton's passing resembles Paul George (20.7 AST%) and Jimmy Butler (19.9%), his work on the defensive glass mimics Anthony Davis (26.3 DREB%) and Karl Anthony-Towns (27.0 DREB%) and his shooting efficiency rivals LeBron James (57.7 TS%) and Chris Paul (57.6 TS%).
Obviously, statistics posted in the D-League are not on par with NBA performances, but skills are made evident and they are transferrable to some degree. For instance, it's rather impressive that among players who have averaged 20 or more minutes and appeared in 10+ games, Hamilton's defensive rebounding percentage currently ranks 4th.
In addition, in a much more prevalent hero-ball environment, most of Hamilton's shot attempts came from either three point range (24.2%) or inside the paint (53.1%). Care to know which NBA player possesses identical ratios? Try Draymond Green and 25.8% of his field goal attempts from behind the arc and 51.4% from the painted area.
Upon graduating from the University of Texas, Hamilton expected to make an immediate impact in the NBA.
"I thought I was going to be a guy who came in and played right away," Hamilton said. "It was really hard. I came in as a 19-, 20-year-old. You may feel you’re better than somebody, but the coach may feel otherwise. I didn’t handle it the right way."
Obviously, that trajectory never transpired, but it doesn't mean this 25-year old journeyman is without potential. The first time Blake Griffin met Hamilton, he took notice and liked what he saw.
"I just remember he could really score in a lot of different ways," Griffin said. "He could shoot. We would do some post-up, and he’d do a whole bunch of different things. I’d only been in the league a year, but I thought he was well-prepared as far as the offensive versatile skill-set."
According to this must-read article, Hamilton's defense has been the likely culprit of his trouble to carve out a consistent role in the NBA. Will that change with the New Orleans Pelicans? Who knows, but he, like us, are excited by the chance to watch him showcase his skills during this otherwise rather meaningless finish of the schedule.
Looking forward to this opportunity with the @PelicansNBA!— Jordan Hamilton (@J_Goin_HAM) March 25, 2016
Welcome Jordan, even if you were taking a nap when your agent alerted you of the good news!