Most NBA teams have played between eight and 10 games so far this season — about 12 percent of the 82-game schedule. Here’s a look at how some former Texas Longhorns are faring so far. This is part one of a three-part series.
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder forward)
Durant is having yet another MVP caliber season so far. He’s leading the league in scoring at 29.6 points per game. To put that into perspective, LeBron James, who is on pace for another historically great season, is trailing Durant in scoring by 3.6 points a night. Durant is also averaging seven rebounds and 5.2 assists per game — evidence that he really has improved his overall offensive performance.
If there is one minor flaw in Durant’s performance so far, it has been his field goal percentage. He’s taking about 18 shots per game, which is his career average, but his shooting percentage this season is down just over 2 percent from his career 47.4 percent. This miniscule setback shouldn’t offset Durant’s otherwise superb start. His Thunder is 7-3, all while he’s had to shoulder a much heavier load with the absence of winger Kevin Martin from last season.
Jordan Hamilton (Denver Nuggets forward)
Playing with limited minutes, at just over 18 a night, Hamilton has been a solid scoring punch off the Nuggets’ bench, averaging 8.5 points per game. With another year of experience in the association, Hamilton has clearly gotten more comfortable playing in Denver’s rotation, and his role and importance in the team have increased. His versatility is on display so far. He isn’t shooting lights out — only 45.6 percent inside the arc and 33 percent from the three — but he’s scoring from all areas at a decent rate.
Hamilton has also been a respectable force on the boards so far for Denver. The production of nearly four rebounds per 18 minutes is a stat any team in the league would love to have off the bench. Even though the Nuggets are struggling right now at 4-6, don’t put much, if any, of that blame on Hamilton. For what he’s being asked to do, he’s more than delivering.
A couple of former Texas Longhorns played nice games in the Association last night. Let’s take a look at the results.
LaMarcus Aldridge – Portland Trailblazers power forward
Lost to Houston Rockets 116-101
Aldridge didn’t have the most efficient game, but he was still effective. It took him 19 shots to pile up 21 points, but as Portland’s franchise player, he’s entitled to take shots at his discretion. One area in which he performed poorly and consequently hurt his team last night was rebounding. This might be Aldridge’s only weakness, and if he can consistently grab eight to 10 boards a night, the Blazers will have a few more possessions to work with.
Aldridge has been fantastic in Portland’s first four games, posting averages of 24.5 points and 6.7 boards per game. The team's offense relies on the perimeter combo of Aldridge and talented young guard Damian Lillard. These two will have to play well together consistently for this team to have a chance at the playoffs.
Jordan Hamilton — Denver Nuggets small forward
Lost to San Antonio Spurs 102-94
The former sharpshooting swingman for the Longhorns hasn’t seen much court time so far. The Nuggets, 0-2 coming into this game, are not clicking offensively as many people had expected them to. New head coach Brian Shaw decided to shake things up and give Hamilton a little more playing time last night.
Hamilton had a successful game in his 23 minutes against the Spurs. He was efficient in shooting the ball, totaling 11 points on six shots, including three for three from beyond the arc. He also did a nice job of limiting guard Danny Green to just four points in 24 minutes. The man he often switched off on, Kawhi Leonard, needed 14 shots to score 14 points.
If Shaw can get Hamilton more consistent minutes, he can be a nice bundle of instant offense off the bench.
A few days ago, I caught up with Jordan Hamilton, a former Longhorn (2009-10) now with the Denver Nuggets. We'll have a story in next week's Texan, but for now here's a few clips from our phone interview.
Daily Texan: How is this summer different than last, when you were entering your rookie season and locked out from organized team basketball activities?
Hamilton: I get hands-on treatment with the coaching staff now, and I get to work out here in Denver, Monday through Friday. I go home to Los Angeles every other weekend or so, but I'm here in the gym every day, shaping my body and trying to lose some weight -- I've gone from 238 to 220 and I'm trying to get to 215. And then basketball-related, just working on all aspects of my game.
DT: What was the hardest part about last season? [Note: Hamilton played in 26 of a possible 66 games, with two starts, averaging 4.4 points per game -- or 21.6 per 48 minutes].
Hamilton: It was a learning experience being around guys like Al Harrington and Andre Miller, and also the mid-level veterans who have been in the league four to five years. Coach [George Karl] played the guys who he believed in in the shortened season; played the guys he knew.
There was no training camp, we just got right into it, so [the rookies] didn't have much preparation time to show the coaching staff what we could do. The coaches knew who I was, obviously, but they weren't familiar with my game as well as they would have been if I was able to be there last summer.
DT: What was your welcome-to-the-NBA moment?
Hamilton: We're all playing pickup at Loyola Marymount [in California] and Kobe Bryant walks in. Kobe joins in -- and he was real good. I was guarding him some. You can play great defense on him and he'll still make shots over you.
DT: You left school after your sophomore season. Was it hard to watch the Longhorns?
Hamilton: There were times when I wished I could have helped them, times where I was like, 'Man, I miss Texas.' But once the season started, I kind of stopped watching college basketball because you're so busy -- either playing games or on a flight.
DT: Speaking of that season, there was a point where the lockout was still in effect but college basketball season had started. At any point did you think you made a mistake, or any point of regret?
Hamilton: Regrets, no, because I ended up with a great situation in Denver with the coaching staff and my teammates.
DT: Thoughts on J'Covan Brown leaving early and then going undrafted?
Hamilton: I didn't really get a chance to talk to him after the Draft, but I talked to him a few times once he declared. I know he went undrafted, but I think he has a great chance to make it. A team will see that he can play. We all know he can score and get to the rim, and shoot, but he's an underrated athlete.
DT: Do you think J'Covan projects as a point guard or a shooting guard?
Hamilton: I'd say point, just because of his size [6'1"]. I remember my freshman year, we were playing a closed scrimmage against Gonzaga. Coach [Rick Barnes] had him playing point and he made some really good plays, distributed the ball well. That was one of the first times I had seen him play and I was like, 'Okay, he's a good point guard, he'll get some playing time there.' But he never played too much of it in college.
DT: From briefly watching them play last year [20-14], what do you think the Longhorns need to better compete?
Hamilton: All the freshmen they had, now that those guys have got a year under their belts, they'll have a great shot at making some noise and fighting for a Big 12 title. They've got Myck Kabongo coming back, he's good. I really like Sheldon McClellan's game, too. He can shoot.
DT: You know, Sheldon keeps drawing comparisons to you.
Hamilton: [Laughs] Yeah, I think he'll have a really good shot to play in the NBA.
Normally a program producing three first-round picks would be cause for celebration, but it’s cause for concern for some fans who believe Texas should have had a better postseason.
Rick Barnes took a lot of heat for not making it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament in March despite having two projected lottery picks and several other respectable players. The fact that three Longhorns — Tristan Thompson (No. 4), Jordan Hamilton (No. 26) and Cory Joseph (No. 29) — heard their names called during the NBA Draft’s first round was a stark reminder for Barnes’ critics that he should have gotten more out of his team last season.
With that trio of early selections, Texas had more players selected in the first round than any other team (Kansas and Duke each had two). Since 2006, the Longhorns have seen eight of their players picked in the first round, also more than anyone in the country. During that same time span, Barnes’ boys have gotten past the second round twice and gone 9-6 (.600) in the NCAA Tournament.
This plethora of first-rounders should not be a reason for throwing Barnes under the bus though. That would ignore the fact that Texas had a stellar regular season. Before they lost three of their last five regular-season games, the Longhorns rose as high as No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches poll, won their first 11 conference contests and beat Kansas in Phog Allen Fieldhouse for the first time in school history.
Any disapproving remarks about Barnes would also fail to recall the gauntlet Texas faced in the NCAA Tournament. After hopes of a No. 1 seed were squashed by a February skid that saw them fall to three unranked teams in 10 days, the Longhorns found themselves in a No. 4 slot many felt was an error on the Selection Committee’s part. Some experts also felt Texas’ first-round opponent, 13th-seeded Oakland, was also disrespected by its spot in the bracket and even picked the Grizzlies to pull the upset. When the Longhorns squeaked by with an 85-81 win, they were faced with the daunting task of facing Arizona’s Derrick Williams, the eventual No. 2 pick. Had Texas beaten the Wildcats, they would have gone up against the defending champion Duke Blue Devils, who featured the eventual No. 1 pick, Kyrie Irving, and two more heralded future selections — seniors Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler.
Any claim Barnes is a mastermind of squandering superior talent would also forget the fact that Barnes has talented teams for a reason — he’s a top-notch recruiter and an awesome developer of talent. Thompson, who will join former Longhorn Daniel “Boobie” Gibson on the Cleveland Cavaliers, was the highest-ranked member of the high school class of 2010 when he committed after his sophomore season. But by the time he graduated, he had slipped to No. 10 (No. 17 on Rivals.com). During his short time at Texas, Thompson more than made up for it. He drastically improved on both ends of the floor, becoming a feared offensive threat and an incredible rebounder and shot-blocker.
Joseph, who played alongside Thompson at Findlay Prep, also made significant strides during his freshman season. He scored 10.4 points per game — fourth on the team — but displayed his ability to come through in the clutch when he hit a game-winning jumper to beat North Carolina in December. Most draft experts thought the San Antonio Spurs reached to make Joseph their first-round selection. But when you consider that the Spurs are a franchise with a heavy emphasis on defense, it’s not much of a surprise they went with a guy that would be a defensive asset.
Hamilton likely best illustrates Barnes ability to shape elite college basketball players. In his freshman year, the 6-foot-7 swingman showed flashes of brilliance but also displayed horrendous shot selection and proved to be a defensive liability. Hamilton’s sophomore season went much better. He embraced his role as the go-to guy on offense without taking 25 to 30 shots and routinely guarded the other team’s best player. Hamilton also improved as a rebounder and a defender and was rewarded by landing in Denver after Dallas traded him.
Barnes gets both the blame for falling short in the NCAA tournament with his gifted team without getting any of the credit for having a gifted team in the first place. How else would Thompson have gone from top-20 prospect to top-five draft pick? How else would Hamilton have gone from someone who never met a shot he didn’t like to a pro prospect that a bunch of scouts liked? The answer is short and simple — Rick Barnes.
Jordan Hamilton is gone. Tristan Thompson is gone. Cory Joseph is gone.
What, you expected otherwise?
The one-and-done been the norm for Texas the past few years. And that’s not going to change, so long as Rick Barnes is still inking five-star after five-star and the Longhorns bow out early year after year.
Granted, it’s never really a bad thing to be signing prep All-Americans. And it’s a testament to how far the Texas program has come in the past decade and a half that it can get the best players in the nation to come play in Austin. But when multiple top-five recruiting classes don’t translate to final finishes in the top four, or top eight, or top 16…or top 32 (you get the picture), then what’s the point? The supreme talent Barnes brings to Austin every August just ends up leaving in April and May, with nothing to show for it but the skid marks of a once-promising season coming to a screeching halt.
It wasn’t always like this, because Texas didn’t start recruiting and signing “superstars” until a little over ten years ago. T.J. Ford took Texas to the Final Four in 2003, then left with two seasons of eligibility remaining. A few years later, LaMarcus Aldridge, Daniel Gibson and P.J. Tucker all declared for the draft after an Elite Eight appearance. Aldridge has flourished in the league, Gibson has settled into a nice role as a spot-up shooter in Cleveland (though his ceiling seemed to be much higher when he first came to Texas) and Tucker was a complete disappointment professionaly, now coming to an Italian arena game near you. Kevin Durant left after his freshman year (no arguing that), D.J. Augustin left after his sophomore year — a good, not great, point guard now with the Bobcats — and last year, Avery Bradley left after a relatively unremarkable individual year.
Bradley, if you remember, came to Texas billed as the No. 1 high school player in the nation. Ahead of DeMarcus Cousins. Ahead of Derrick Favors. Ahead of, yes, John Wall. So all Bradley did was put up around 12 points a game, wildly underachieving any expectations the Longhorns’ fan base might have set for him. Bradley spurned the opportunity to get better and realize his potential in college, jumped to the draft, missed out on the lottery, was picked up by the Boston Celtics at No. 19, played a large chunk of the season in the Developmental League and, as I sit in front of my TV watching Boston play Miami in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, is nowhere to be found on the court. In fact, Bradley hasn’t played in a game since April 17.
A classmate of Bradley’s in 2009, Jordan Hamilton returned for his sophomore year and greatly improved his game. That Hamilton is now moving on the NBA — where he should be selected in the lottery and should also be a top scorer on any team in the league — should not upset any orange blood.
Neither should the departure of Tristan Thompson. Thompson was a five-star recruit and still managed to exceed expectations this past season for Texas. Sure, his game could benefit from another year or so in college, but he has been guaranteed first-round money. To argue that Thompson is dumb for not returning for another year here at Texas would just be selfish, because Thompson is ready.
But Cory Joseph, sadly, is not. In fact, Joseph declaring for the draft a few days ago is incredibly similar to Bradley’s mishap. Like Bradley, Joseph was a five-star recruit. Like Bradley, Joseph looks to be a bit of a point guard/two-guard tweener. Like Bradley, Joseph can play good defense and has a plus jump shot. But also like Bradley, Joseph didn’t meet freshman expectations (11 points a game), and could greatly benefit from another year in school, working on his skills and his body. ESPN basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted last week that he thought Joseph “could be on the D-League All-Rookie team this year.”
As I sit here on my couch, I understand that I would seem not a good judge to offer my insight on any decision dealing with millions of dollars. No, there are no New York Timeses or Boston Globes calling to offer me lucrative contracts. I know what it’s like to be a college student, yes, but I do not know how hard it may be to say “no” to six or seven figures. I also know I often wake up and wish I didn’t have to go to class (about every day.) So there is no blaming, on my part, of any student-athlete who elects to follow their dream, earn some money, ditch the textbooks, and enter the NBA draft. It’s their call, and if they flame out in the league, it will be completely their fault (looking at you, P.J. Tucker.)
With that said, I just don't understand why Barnes keep taking these ready-to-go kids. It’s not like they’re helping bring his program to the Promised Land — four out of five years without even a Sweet 16 appearance. And it accounts to some seriously scary roster turnover, unless you believe that a frontline of Clint Chapman and Alexi Wangmene will in fact be a formidable one.
If Barnes wants to really earn that $200,000 pay raise he just received, he’d be smart to re-evaluate his recruiting practices. He shouldn’t completely stop going after the super recruit, the nearly-inevitable one-and-done, because most national champions usually have one or two great players on their team, and you never know when some of the best players in the country will elect to return to school (Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, Kentucky’s Terrence Jones, Baylor’s Perrry Jones — all highly regarded by NBA minds, all returning for their sophomore season this fall.) Nationally recognized players also bring their schools national attention. Whatever Kevin Durant did for Texas in his time here and whatever his legacy will do for Texas in the hereafter has extraordinary significance.
But Barnes should start placing more value on the high-character role players, guys he knows will stick around for at least a couple of seasons, improve every year, buy into the program, and develop as leaders. Gary Johnson was that player last year. Texas needs more guys like that if it ever hopes to develop as a yearly national championship contender.
So as soon as the one-and-dones stop using Austin as an eight-month long layover on their way to the NBA, the Longhorns will be able to field a consistent, synergized roster. That should equal more success.
Until then? Don’t expect much, other than disappointing finales, fleeting memories, and awkward goodbyes.
Hamilton plays against Kansas in 2011 Big 12 Championship game. Hamilton hopes to have a breakout second season in NBA.
DENVER — The difference between Jordan Hamilton’s freshman and sophomore years at Texas was stark.
The former Longhorn swingman is hoping for the same kind of improvement as he enters his second year with the Denver Nuggets.
“That jump,” Hamilton said, “is a learning experience.”
As a freshman, Hamilton was behind Justin Mason in the Longhorns’ rotation. Hamilton, who would not beat out a senior for a starting spot, carved a role for himself as an offensive sparkplug off the bench. Every so often, though, Hamilton would force shots, perhaps in an effort to compensate for a lack of playing time.
“A couple of guys played my position, you couldn’t take away from what Justin had accomplished in his [college] career,” Hamilton said. “I wasn’t going to come in and start right off the bat just because I was highly recruited.”
It wasn’t the easiest season, but Hamilton learned a lot. That much was evident when, as a sophomore, he led Texas in scoring with nearly 19 points per game, earned a spot on the All-Big 12 First Team and came off as a smarter, more mature player.
Now, it’s deja vu all over again. Though he was drafted in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft, Hamilton sat on the bench for most of his rookie year with the Nuggets, playing in just 26 games. He was surrounded by players of his mold — score-first wingmen — and last summer’s lockout, which prevented Hamilton from working out with the Nuggets’ staff, didn’t help.
Head coach George Karl wasn’t especially familiar with Hamilton’s game, so he played the veterans he knew.
“In the shortened season, Coach played the guys who he believed in, the guys he knew,” Hamilton said. “There was no training camp, the rookies didn’t have much preparation time to show the coaching staff what we could do.”
Hamilton has turned himself into a gym rat this summer. He’s working out at the Nuggets’ facilities Monday through Friday and has trimmed down from 238 to 220 lbs., with designs to get to 215 before the summer ends. Offense has always come naturally to Hamilton, so he’s working on the other aspects of his game.
“I get hands-on treatment with the coaching staff now,” Hamilton said.
Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri privately believes Hamilton would have been drafted within the top 10 picks if he had come out this season, and the coaching staff expects Hamilton to get much bigger minutes this season.
That luxury has allowed the Nuggets to sleep peacefully as shooting guard Rudy Fernandez heads back to Spain and take their time with the draft process, selecting French project Evan Fournier. The Nuggets are also reportedly considering trades for swingmen Arron Afflalo and Wilson Chandler.
“We thought, as George [Karl] has said, Jordan Hamilton is our rookie for next year,” said Nuggets president Josh Kroenke at this year’s draft night press conference. “We’re trying to stack them now where we develop them.”
The Nuggets are encouraged by Hamilton’s productivity despite little playing time. He averaged 4.4 points in 9.9 minutes per game. But in prorating Hamilton’s numbers to 48 minutes per game, he would have averaged about 22 points a contest.
“You’ll see more of me this upcoming year,” Hamilton said. “The second year was better for me in college, and it’ll be better for me in the NBA.”
Jordan Hamilton played at Texas for two years. In his final season, he led the Longhorns in scoring with 18.6 points per game.
Contrary to public opinion, the former Longhorn swingman does not blame Texas head coach Rick Barnes for him slipping to No. 26 in the NBA draft. And he certainly never told anybody that.
After he was picked by the Dallas Mavericks and then traded to Denver, it was reported that Hamilton blamed the slide down the draft on Texas head coach Rick Barnes for telling inquiring teams that Hamilton was "uncoachable."
Hamilton said that he never mentioned Barnes was to blame, and the entire discussion was taken out of context.
“I feel like I was misquoted with the whole conversation,” Hamilton said during a Tuesday phone interview. “I never said anything about coach Barnes.”
It was unwanted attention for a guy who had gone into the draft with such an even-keeled approach, even choosing not to watch the night’s drama unfold on television.
“I didn’t watch the draft, I was in the gym,” Hamilton said. “I wanted to go in there and clear my mind. I found out where I was going when my agent called me.”
In his post-draft statements about each of his three drafted players, Barnes noted special praise for Hamilton’s ability to adjust.
“I will always respect Jordan for the way he honestly sat down and evaluated himself following his freshman season here,” Barnes said. “He realized there was a lot he needed to learn. Jordan worked so hard at the game but more importantly, he grew as a person.”
Following an up-and-down first year at Texas, Hamilton made the leap from role player to star during his sophomore season. He led the Longhorns in scoring at 18.6 points a game — good for fourth in the conference — and his shot selection was notably improved compared to his freshman year, where he seemed a bit trigger-happy at times.
“When we think about Jordan from the time he arrived on campus as a freshman, he has really grown,” Barnes said.
At his basketball camp last Saturday, former Longhorn Kevin Durant, who has known Hamilton for a few years, showered him with praise.
“Jordan is such a mature guy; he knows how to handle stuff,” Durant said.
“He has great people around him.”
While his growth as a player and a person was visible on the court, Hamilton admits some NBA front offices still had character reservations.
“A lot of teams had questions on whether or not I was coachable,” he said. “I can be coachable, and once I get to the NBA, I can show that.”
After he was drafted, Hamilton had some time to tour his new city and get to know some members of the Nuggets organization — but not many because of the July 1 lockout.
“Two days after the draft, I flew to Denver and had a chance to talk to the coaches and general manager,” Hamilton said. “I worked out with Kenneth Faried and Chukwudiebere Maduabum for about three days with a trainer. But on June 30, we had to leave.”
Because he isn’t permitted access to any Denver facilities or allowed to have contact with any of the staff, Hamilton is spending his summer in Los Angeles, his hometown.
“I treat living out like here like I’m in college,” he said. “I’m working out, enjoying time with my family, not spending any money. I’m doing things a regular kid would do, except that I don’t have to go to school.”
A signing bonus won’t come until the lockout ends, but Hamilton expects to sign a shoe deal in the near future to provide some extra income, and his older brother, Gary, helps out with money he earns for playing overseas.
For those who weren’t fortunate enough to be drafted — such as Gary Johnson, Hamilton’s teammate at Texas — the lockout has put careers on hold.
“It is tough that there aren’t any summer leagues that he can play in,” Hamilton said. “But once the lockout ends, he can go to somebody’s camp.”
Hamilton realizes that, as a first-round draft pick, he’s one of the priveleged. He will start working out within the coming week, and looks forwards to his new start and new role with the Nuggets, a team known for offensive potency. His future is bright, but Hamilton, who led the Longhorns to 52 wins in two years, can’t help but to look back.
"I would like to thank you guys for all your support during my time at the University of Texas," he wrote in an open letter to the Texan fan base. "I had the best two years of my life being a Longhorn and will never forget the great times I had on and off the court."
Printed on 07/07/2011 as: Denver's Hamilton sets things straight
I would like to thank you guys for all of your support during my time at the University of Texas. I had the best two years of my life being a Longhorn and will never forget the great times I had on and off the court. You guys are the greatest fans on the planet. I want to say THANK YOU, because without YOU there would be no me. The times I wanted to give up, it was YOU that kept me going strong. Thank you to those who have not only watched me grow and develop as a basketball player, but also as a young man. I would also like to thank God, my family and friends.
As I take the next step in my basketball journey I hope to have the Longhorn Nation supporting me and I wish Coach Barnes and the Texas basketball program the best of luck and know that nothing but wins will be coming out of Austin for the foreseeable future. I know the program is in great shape and Coach Barnes has another great recruiting class coming in.
“Once a Longhorn, always a Longhorn,” and “Hook ‘Em Horns.” Thanks again for all the love and support. My time in Austin will be forever cherished.
Head coach Rick Barnes will bid farewell to another group of players leaving for the NBA Draft. Since 2006, eight Longhorns have been selected in teh first round under Barnes
The three Longhorns drafted into the NBA last week spent about as much time on the draft board as they did playing college ball. Tristan Thompson, Jordan Hamilton and Cory Joseph were all taken in the first round of the draft, and it is a point of both contention and celebration for Longhorn fans.
Perhaps the disappointment can only be erased by taking solace in the fact that, for the first time in school history, three players were selected in the first round. Weak draft class or not, no one expected that.
The biggest shocker of the night was when Cleveland selected Tristan Thompson with the fourth overall pick. Let’s be nice and at least count this early selection as a victory for Thompson. The extra “W” will come in handy for him since he is now on the worst team in the league, which did itself no favors by drafting so terribly.
Thompson, along with the Cavaliers’ No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving, will head into the home of the Rust Belt with equally as much rust in their games. Irving played a grand total of 11 games his sophomore year because of injuries, and Thompson played one solid year of beginner ball with Texas. Now he is expected to make an immediate impact on the league’s laughter squad. The problem is the Cavaliers are already stacked with raw forwards.
Thompson would have been better off falling into the upper teens before being selected. He would have fit well into the second team of a squad such as Phoenix or New York; high-scoring teams with an emphasis on speed.
Thompson’s impact is not going to be as a scorer. He is the guy you want to come in for 15-20 minutes, cause defensive chaos, snag big rebounds and drop a respectable nine or 10 points a night. Cleveland may expect too much too early from the big man, and it could have a negative impact on his career moving forward.
If Thompson was drafted into an unfortunate situation, Jordan Hamilton was dealt the exact opposite hand of cards.
Landing in Denver was perfect for Hamilton, because the Nuggets know a thing or two about explosive scorers. Hamilton is being ushered into a situation tailor-made for his game. He will get to spend a year or so on the bench, learning from guys such as Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, while simultaneously being allowed to unleash his hyperactive shot for 10-15 minutes a game. His progress will be slow, but he is set up for the most success of any of the former UT players drafted.
As far as the Cory Joseph pick is concerned, I’m still shaking my head at why he even chose to enter the draft.
He was essentially going to have the keys to Texas backcourt handed to him had he stayed another year. He would have had a chance to retool his game and up his draft stock. Instead he went 29th to the Spurs, where he could battle Tony Parker for the starting job — a job Joseph will compete for but won’t get.
To be frank, how is anyone supposed to know how these things will turn out? Draft selections often surprise fans. And if anyone knows about draft steals, it is the San Antonio Spurs. In 1999, an Argentinian by the name of Manu Ginobili was selected 57th overall in the second round, and no one aside from the Spurs had high hopes for him. Turns out everyone else was wrong. Ginobili has won three championships with the Spurs and was an All-Star in 2005.
During the 2007-08 season, he received the Sixth Man of the Year Award and was named to the All-NBA Third Team. One can only hope Joseph will be so fortunate.
As for Longhorn basketball fans, you’re free to be either unhappy at the loss of your team’s cornerstone players or happy for their progress. I’m just jealous they have jobs already.
For a moment, it looked as if Jordan Hamilton would become part of the world-champion Dallas Mavericks, but after a draft-night trade, the 6’7” small forward will call Denver home next season.
Selected with the 26th overall pick by the Mavericks, Hamilton was dealt to the Nuggets in a three-team trade that also sent Rudy Fernandez of the Portland Trail Blazers to Dallas. The Trail Blazers also shipped veteran guard Andre Miller to the Nuggets in exchange for point guard Raymond Felton.
After a disappointing freshman season, Hamilton changed his number and his game in the offseason to prove he was a better, more mature player.
“I will always respect Jordan for the way he honestly sat down and evaluated himself following his freshman season here,” said Texas head coach Rick Barnes.
If Hamilton’s offseason self-evaluation was a standardized test, he would have been commended for his efforts. He improved his scoring average from 10 to nearly 19 points a game from his freshman to sophomore season, as well as grabbing four more rebounds per contest.
“He realized there was a lot that he needed to learn. Jordan worked so hard at the game, but more importantly, he grew as a person,” Barnes said.
Hamilton will once again have to mature quickly and continue to tweak his game in order to be successful at the next level.
His new teammates in Denver are a young bunch and are on an upward swing in the Western Conference.
Hamilton will most likely begin the season on the bench behind Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler; two players who, as of now, bring a more complete game to the court. As is common over the course of an NBA season, things can change quickly. Hamilton could become a much-needed shooting spark off the bench for the Nuggets.
“We feel like we got a couple of young players that could be good help,” said Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri. “Jordan Hamilton is a big, big wing. He’s a good scorer, a really good shooter, and I think his game will develop.