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Toronto Raptors Sign Jordan Hamilton: Analysis

The Toronto Raptors officially announced on Monday the signing of swingman Jordan Hamilton.

The Toronto Raptors announced Monday they have signed forward-guard Jordan Hamilton. Per team policy, financial details were not disclosed.

Hamilton, 6-foot-7, 220 pounds, averaged 6.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 17.0 minutes in 60 games (12 starts) last season with Denver and Houston. He scored in double figures 20 times, including a season-high 19 points November 8 at Phoenix. The Rockets acquired Hamilton from the Nuggets on February 20 in exchange for Aaron Brooks.

RealGM’s Shams Charania first reported on Saturday the deal is for one year, and one assumes it’s likely for the veteran’s minimum.

Entering his fourth year in the league, Hamilton still remains an unknown. Denver always had a lot of depth on the wing in his two full seasons there, and he was stuck behind the likes of Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, Corey Brewer, DeMarre Carroll and Rudy Fernandez. As a result, he logged a total of 655 minutes in his first two seasons. To top that, Evan Fournier and Quincy Miller were drafted in the year after he was.

Hamilton got more playing from Brian Shaw than he had under George Karl, but shot just 39% from the field before getting dealt at the trade deadline to the Rockets for Aaron Brooks. He posted almost identical numbers in Houston, failing to win a rotation spot over Francisco Garcia and Omri Casspi by the time the postseason arrived. He did not appear in any games of their series against the Blazers.

The upcoming year will still be his age-24 season, though, and Hamilton has logged only 1,674 minutes in his three years as a pro, fewer than the 1,835 he logged in his two years at Texas. The physical profile that made him a first-round pick is still there, and the case could be made Hamilton was simply never provided enough minutes or the right context to prove himself an NBA player. Taking that into consideration, it is surprising Hamilton lasted as long as he did on the market and signed for the minimum, when someone like Cartier Martin got a deal in the first week of free agency.

The reason Hamilton lasted so long can probably be boiled down his performance last season, the first one where he got decent minutes. Hamilton is a gunner, but not such a good one to justify his career average of 14.8 attempts per 36 minutes. He took 52.7% of his shots from three-point range last season and hit just 35.4% of them. Fewer than 17% of his attempts were at the rim and he shot 55%. He averaged fewer than two free throws and two assists per 36 minutes.

Toronto is signing him in hopes that it can unlock some untapped potential. President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri was the general manager that drafted him in Denver. The Raptors entered the offseason needing a wing able to guard bigger opponents, to rotate with DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross, as they relied on John Salmons for that last season. They drafted Bruno Caboclo, who they are confident isn’t as far away from contributing as many assume, and signed James Johnson to a two-year, $5-million deal. With Lou Williams and Landry Fields also on the team (combining to earn $11.7 million), it’s hard to envision a path to the lineup for Hamilton. There’s no harm in taking a flyer on a 24-year-old who hasn’t had a chance to play much for the minimum, though.

Rafael Uehara

Rafael Uehara is a regular contributor at Upside & Motor. More of his stuff can be found at basketballscouting.wordpress.com, his own blog, and Hoop365. He can be followed on twitter @rafael_uehara.

  • DAW

    Another one of these surprise players that Masai Ujiri know something that others do not. All the best in the up-coming season.