In advance of the 2018-2019 NBA season, the Peachtree Hoops crew will preview each player on the current roster. The fifth edition evaluates newcomer Daniel Hamilton.
Daniel Hamilton signed a fully guaranteed contract with the Hawks a few weeks ago after spending last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder on a two-way contract. He put up solid numbers during his time in the G League last season including 16.1 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists per game. He helped the Oklahoma City Blue finish strong and qualify for the G League playoffs.
With that said, Hamilton isn’t much of a shooter. In 94 career games, he has converted only 41.7% of his field goal attempts and 33% of his three-point attempts. Last season, his shooting from the 3-point line regressed to 28.6%.
Hamilton is an impressive play-maker, though, especially for a player that also has the size to offer valuable positional versatility on the defensive end of the court. He doesn’t necessarily have a single offensive position either. He will likely be relied upon as a secondary creator on bench units when he earns playing time. It remains to be seen if he can serve in the role of the third point guard on the 15 man roster especially for stretches during which Jaylen Adams, on a two-way contract and limited to 45 days with Atlanta, is not available.
If Hamilton is to push for playing time among the wings on the Hawks’ roster, he will need to improve upon his ability to make an impact as a defender. It would also help if he can demonstrate improvement as a shooter even if it is just an ability to knock down uncontested shots from the 3-point line.
Let’s take a look at some of his action in limited NBA minutes from last season.
Hamilton is squaring off against a veteran wing defender in Corey Brewer on this play. He runs a side pick and roll and uses a behind the back dribble to attack the paint which eventually creates an uncontested dunk for Nick Collison. This represents Hamilton’s best skill set in the offensive half court.
Here, he is running a high pick and roll with Collison in a designed play in an ATO (after time out) situation. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope overplays the screen and Hamilton recognizes the technique and is able to use his dribble to get to the rim and is able to create another uncontested shot for his teammate.
On this play, he helps create a turnover and a transition opportunity which he easily converts. This is representative of his strongest area of play at this point, helping create transition opportunities for his team and using his length and passing prowess to convert in those opportunities.
He is not the strongest finisher at the rim as can be seen on this play. This probably should have ended up with another uncontested look for Collison. Instead, Hamilton unnecessarily lets a casual dig from Kyle Kuzma force him to pick up his dribble which limits his options. Had he operated with more strength as a dribbler on this play he likely would have been able to navigate the double team instead of being steered into an easy shot block.
This play offers an opportunity to look at his perimeter shot. Hamilton is a little late getting his frame in place to catch the pass from Paul George squarely. He has a bit of a natural preference to catch the ball closer to his left hip than mid-abdomen, which is part of why he struggles to find a repeatable motion that serves him well as a shooter.
This possession offers another look, this time at a shot that Hamilton is able to knock down. He has a bit of a Lonzo Ball thing going on with how he naturally prefers to shoot the basketball. He appears to be strongly right eye dominant, which is a big part of what makes him feel like he needs to pull from his left hip to initiate his shot. It will be work tracking how his shot looks early in camp under the guidance of Atlanta’s new coaching staff.
This defensive possession offers a look at what is too often lacking on the defensive end of the court for Hamilton. It’s not clear that’s he’s aware that Alex Caruso has abandoned his dribble on this play. If he is aware, he’s not demonstrating the proper technique.
He would expected to be bodied up belly-to-belly as soon as the dribble is picked up which should force Caruso to turn his back to the play to protect the basketball. Instead, the Lakers find the easy back door cut for the lay up.
Hamilton’s play in this defensive possession offers a potential explanation as to why the general technique discipline is not often seen. He gets hung up on what should have been an obvious screen, but he has the length and quickness to recover to affect Brandon Ingram’s jumper.
At lower levels, players with a frame similar to that of Hamilton get opportunities to recover from imperfect technique. For Hamilton to stick in any NBA rotation, he is going to have to work hard to fight through screens and stay attached to the player he is defending. Additionally, responsibility recognition and a stronger sense of urgency will need to be an area of emphasis for him in the future.
Hamilton offers more skill versatility than any of the wing rentals the Hawks evaluated in the final months of the 2017-18 season. But if he is to make progress in competing for playing time at the deepest position on the Hawks’ roster entering this season, there are some obvious areas within which to track potential improvement in camp and during preseason play if Hamilton is to be projected to being regularly on the active roster early during the regular season.