In two starts for the Denver Nuggets, Anthony Randolph combined to score 7 points in 30 minutes on 3-8 shooting, including just 0-1 from three-point land. On a team that is desperate for scoring and floor spacing, he wasn't getting the job done. Enter Jordan Hamilton. Brian Shaw made the choice, in-part because of Randolph's injury, to shake up his starting lineup.
Shaw went with Hamilton, who had yet to see any action after a not-so-hot preseason in which he shot just 10-percent from downtown (2-20) and just 35.7-percent from the field (15-42).
"He was just really really struggling shooting the ball," said Shaw. "He was struggling with his confidence."
Enter Chris Farr. The assistant coach is known for his work with young players, notably his work with the Blazers rising star Damian Lillard before the 2013 NBA draft (read about that here). Farr is there for the Nuggets players that want pre-and-post practice workouts and he has been there for Hamilton.
"Those two days that we had of practice after the Portland game, that's what changed me from [Hamilton] going from not playing to when Anthony [Randolph] was out at that positions to him starting," said Shaw. "I came in and I watched him pre-practice with Coach Farr. His motor was better, the ball was going in, it seemed like he was getting his confidence back, and it made me say, "You know what? Let's go with him.""
Hamilton rewarded Shaw's decision with a solid outing.
"I made shots," said Hamilton. "That's something that I didn't really show in the preseason. Now I just have to go in with the same mindset, of confidence, and now that I've found it I'm back in my rhythm, but we didn't get the win."
Hamilton was on the floor for 23 minutes and scored 11 points on 4-6 shooting, including 3-3 from downtown, but he wasn't totally satisfied with his effort.
"I only got four boards, I think I could have grabbed three or four more," said Hamilton. "I missed a couple box-outs, I saw that in film today [Nov. 6th] so I'm just going over that and know I have to crash the boards every time, being the [small forward]."
His efforts are a work in progress and he won't always shoot so well from downtown, but Shaw liked what he saw.
"I was encouraged by what I saw," said Shaw. "I thought he shot the ball well. Defensively, he got behind on a few plays, but I was encouraged by what I saw; mostly because he has got his confidence back. So now, it's something for him to build on and he can keep on ascending."
Defense, there is that word that so many are quick to label as an issue for Hamilton. He knows that the poor-defender label could follow him around throughout his young career, but he's putting in the effort to get better and understand where he needs to work.
"One time I let Kawhi Leonard go middle and we're a team that forces to the baseline," said Hamilton. "Second time I made up for it, but the first time I let him go middle and he scored a bucket and that's a big part of the game-plan [not letting guys go to the middle]."
It may have only been one game, but Hamilton is eager to prove there is more where that first performance came from. When asked if he would start again against the Hawks Hamilton wasn't sure, but he'll remain ready.
"We didn't talk about it," said Hamilton. "But if I am, I'm going to come with the same approach: be aggressive."
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