Jordan Hamilton earns trust of Nuggets coach Brian Shaw
Denver swingman emerges as key part of team's high-scoring reserve unit
In his first two NBA seasons, Nuggets swingman Jordan Hamilton played 655 minutes. Twenty-one games into 2013-14, he already is more than halfway to matching that total.
Among the many great story lines for Denver so far this season, Hamilton has been one of the best.
After a difficult training camp that included some tough love from first-year coach Brian Shaw, Hamilton has emerged as an important part of a Denver bench that ranks third in the NBA in scoring (44.7 points per game).
“I went two years without playing. That was tough for me,” Hamilton said. “I was a young guy at the time – still am a young guy. Things are just starting to click. Me and coach Shaw, I think we have a pretty good relationship.”
Shaw certainly showed his faith in the 23-year-old Hamilton in the final two games of Denver’s road trip that ended with victories in Philadelphia and Washington. Hamilton played the entire fourth quarter of both games, going 5-for-7 from 3-point range.
Against Philadelphia, he made three 3-pointers in a 67-second span to help the Nuggets turn a four-point lead into a double-figure victory. His two 3s two nights later helped Denver overcome a late seven-point deficit against the Wizards.
During the six-game trip, Hamilton made 12 of 26 3-pointers and scored in double figures three times. He is shooting .400 from long range, which is tops among Nuggets players who have attempted at least 30 3s.
“He’s a legitimate threat on the floor,” Shaw said. “He spaces the floor out for us. I’m not surprised because he has the ability to shoot the ball and do what he’s doing. I am surprised because of where he was to where he is right now.”
Shaw made a point of giving his players a clean slate when he took over as coach, but Hamilton struggled to make a good first impression with his attitude and work habits in practice.
“I can live with guys making mistakes and I’ll be patient with that as long as they’re trying to do the right thing,” Shaw said. “It’s come down to him finally kind of looking in the mirror and saying, ‘Ok, this is what they’re asking me to do and I’ll try to go out and do it,’ as opposed to (just) doing what he wanted.”
Warranted or unwarranted, Hamilton said he wants to shed his reputation as someone who’s resistant to coaching. He credits Shaw, assistant coach Melvin Hunt and assistant coach/player development Chris Farr for helping him turn the corner.
“People always talk about attitude,” Hamilton said. “That jacket kind of carried me. I have to show that I can just go out and play without getting mad or getting frustrated and play my game.
“Whether I play five minutes or I play 48 minutes, I’m going to give it my all every night. I’m still working on my defense. That comes with playing more and learning rotations. Once that happens, the sky can be the limit.”