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Jordan Hamilton's Ascent To The Top Of The NBA D-League

Jordan Hamilton is one of the best prospects in the NBA since Quincy Miller's NBA departure. But what does the former NBA player need to add to his game to make it back to the League?

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The insane paced offense of the Reno Bighorns has already landed Quincy Miller back in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings. Miller has achieved the goal of every player in the NBA D-League, even if he’s coming back to the D-League for the All-Star Game. While Miller was a substantial part of the Bighorns, former NBA forward Jordan Hamilton had no problem replacing him in the lineup.

The 6’7" forward is a former first-round pick of the Mavericks (traded to the Nuggets on draft night) back in 2011. Jordan Hamilton has logged over 120 games in the NBA with the Rockets and Nuggets, but found himself in the D-League to start the 2014-15 season.

While Quincy Miller was all over the D-League as the No. 1 prospect, Hamilton has filled those shoes since his departure. In the Bighorns first game without Miller, Jordan Hamilton took it upon himself to score 40 points on nearly 77% from the field. It only took him 22 shots to reach the 40-point mark, with only one made triple. That game against RGV on January 18 set the tone for what Hamilton was expecting to do with more shots being thrown his way.

Besides filling the scoring sheet up, Hamilton has shown his value as a multi use forward. He’s had at least a double-double in six of his last seven games, including an 11-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist triple-double on February 7 against the OKC Blue. His shooting wasn’t there that night (5-of-15), but he still impacted the game, compiling those 10 assists with only a single turnover. Considering the pace the Reno Bighorns play at (138.6 ppg), that’s quite impressive for the 6’7" forward.

To get back into the NBA, Jordan Hamilton realizes he will have to transform his game into something of a stretch-four. He’s always been a decent 3 ball shooter, knocking down 36% of his attempts in the NBA and 33.6% this season in the NBADL. Showing a consistent ability to knock down the trey ball will increase his chances of becoming the next man signed to a 10-day contract.

Peering into his shot chart, it reveals the strengths and weaknesses of Hamilton’s beyond-the-arc shooting. His 33.6% mark from deep is compacted by his weakness to knock down the corner three (23% from left corner, 29% from right corner). Take away those corners and he’s shooting close to 36% from three, which doesn’t seem like a substantial increase, but it moves him closer to the average percentage in the NBA.

The ability to stretch the floor as a big and still be able to bang down low is becoming more and more valuable in the NBA. Floor spacing is necessary in the League to open up all phases of an offense. Look at successful teams like the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks that consider the 3-point shot biblical. The Warriors have a stretch-four in Draymond Green (33% 3PT) who can knock down triples, as the Hawks do in Paul Millsap (35% 3PT). Notice that these two aren’t prolific downtown shooters. However, they do have the ability to space the floor and open up lanes for penetrating guards.

That could be the difference between Jordan Hamilton making his way back to the NBA or staying in Reno for the season. Robert Covington’s 37% mark from three lead him to a deal with the Philadelphia Sixers and he’s becoming more recognized and respected as a shooter. This might not have been the path Hamilton wanted to take, but it might be necessary.

One thing is clear: Jordan Hamilton has NBA experience and has been putting up numbers in the D-League all season. He’s one of the best — if not the — best prospect left in the D-League and it should be sooner, not later, that his phone rings from one of the 30 teams in the NBA.