Right now, there are four moves with which we can judge Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri. The first, obviously was the Chauncey and Company trade. We won't know the full extent of that deal for a few years, but in the short term - it looks good. Second, Ujiri used the No. 22 pick in the draft to nab Kenneth Faried. If he can translate his game to the NBA and develop an offensive game, then this pick itself will be a huge success for our first draft. And for his third move ...
"Mozgov isn't negotiable. He's mine now..."
Ujiri swapped disgruntled point guard Raymond Felton for Andre Miller and a 1st rounder that turned into Jordan Hamilton. Later on draft night, in his fourth and final move (for now), Ujiri swapped a future second round pick to the Lakers for the draft rights to Chukwudiebere Maduabum (Chu Chu). I can't say much for Chu Chu. If he ever joins the team as a rotation player, it will be a huge success. Now focusing on that third deal we find the true steal of the draft: Jordan Hamilton.
A little history:
Jordan Hamilton went to high school in Compton, California. He has four brothers and one sister, and is an avid shoe collector. Seriously, I won't embed it, but you guys can check it out for yourselves, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGhJtdJDPQk
Nuggets 1st round pick #26 overall, Jordan Hamilton.
As a prospect:
Hamilton graduated high school in 2009. He joined the Longhorns in Texas as the top ranked small forward. Scouts were expecting a one and done player, meaning he would jump to the NBA after his freshman season. He was projected to be a top 7 to top 10 pick in the 2010 draft that featured John Wall. That's when everything went wrong for the Texas product. Hamilton was said to be selfish and a bad decision maker his freshman year. The stats don't lie.
A bad attitude, selfishness, and poor shot selection killed any draft stock he had that year, and guaranteed he'd return to school for a sophomore season.
"26! It's the coach's fault!"
Hamilton started his sophomore campaign by apologizing to his teammates and getting his head on straight. He showed improvement in his willingness to pass, effort, attitude, etc. The stats show:
The things that stand out to me is Hamilton doubles his scoring output but only increased his minutes by a ratio of 1.5 or 50% or 10 minutes. But more importantly he doubled his rebounding numbers. Rebounding is a better show of increased effort. Other notables include, the improvement in free throw percentage from a disappointing 58% to a respectable 78%. He is also an excellent 3-point shooter. He improved from 36.5% to 38.5%, and it wouldn't surprise me if he goes over 40% in the NBA. Every mock draft at this point had him going in the lottery from top 10 to mid range first round. He even had impressive workouts showing off athleticism, versatility, and a smooth stroke.
Another thing to think about is Texas runs a "slow" offensive system with fewer processions and planned plays. In a high octane offensive system, like George Karl's, his stats could be much higher.
So what happened?
Hamilton thought it was coach Rick Barnes calling him uncoachable, but also teams remembered his freshman year. It came back to bite him. EIther way, he suffered a major drop compared to the mocks landing at No. 26. Anywhere from 10-18 spots later than he was projected. So, now that he's a Nugget. How does he fit?
This is the best video detailing his strengths and weakness, and he's matched up against newest Utah Jazz member Alec Burks (former Colorado Buffaloes product).
Hamilton has great athleticism to finish at the rim in a variety of ways.He has great range to shoot threes beyond the NBA line, a smooth stroke, and the ability to create his own shot off the dribble. Right now, he struggles with decision making, but there is still time to correct those issues. In essence he's a 20-year-old taller version of J.R. Smith and he has potential to be very good - a star for the Nuggets. One thing he already has, that J.R. struggles with, is he squares up to the rim before launches. This is huge for accuracy, and he does it very fast, while J.R. often forgets to square up. Karl also gives his player more freedom than what Hamilton saw at Texas. Hamilton will enjoy playing here.
How many minutes he'll get will depend on how many of our free agents will get re-signed. I'm assuming that Arron Afflalo and Wilson Chandler will be back and Hamilton will get 10-15 minutes backing up AAA because we know Miller will take some minutes at the shooting guard spot. If on the off chance J.R. is re-signed, Hamilton will get minutes once Danilo Gallinari inevitably injures himself. I can imagine Hamilton talking threes off of Ty Lawson's penetration as well as giving him the ball to generate his own shot when the offense goes dry.
Hamilton is currently playing at the Drew League where he apparently had a game winning block. This is good news for Karl and his renewed focus on defense.
http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=6799030 Drew league interview
Any comments? Concerns?