After wild draft night, Hamilton happy to land in Denver
University of Texas swingman believes Nuggets are the right fit
Jordan Hamilton was in the gym working on his game when his draft rights started earning frequent flier miles across the western United States.
First he was a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Then he was thought to be heading to the Portland Trail Blazers.
When he finally landed with the Denver Nuggets, Hamilton believed he had found the perfect NBA home.
“It’s exciting,” he said Friday. “I think the Nuggets like my game and that’ll be a good fit for me.”
Hamilton, who averaged 18.6 points and 7.7 rebounds as a sophomore at Texas last season, was expected to be off the board by the time the Nuggets selected 22nd in Thursday night’s NBA draft. Denver took power forward Kenneth Faried and then acted quickly to secure Hamilton when he was still available at No. 26.
Hamilton was officially drafted by Dallas but then packaged as part of a three-team trade that sent his draft rights to Denver via Portland, along with veteran point guard Andre Miller and a future second-round pick. For their part, the Nuggets gave up point guard Raymond Felton.
“I never thought we would get both of those guys (Faried and Hamilton),” Nuggets Executive Vice President Masai Ujiri said. “They landed in our laps.”
Hamilton’s drop from a potential lottery pick to the late first round was surprising. As other undervalued picks have done before, he plans to use it as motivation while trying to succeed in the NBA.
“It adds fuel to the fire,” he said. “I have to play hard and prove myself as someone that could’ve been a higher draft pick. But I don’t get caught up in that. I think it’s a blessing to be in the NBA.”
With the ability to score and rebound while playing both shooting guard and small forward, the 6-foot-8 Hamilton has heard his game compared to Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce and Indian Pacers forward Danny Granger.
“(Nuggets fans) can expect me to score and rebound from my position,” Hamilton said. “I bring something that the Nuggets already have and that’s toughness. I can guard the 2 or the 3. That won’t be a problem. I can guard some 4s at times. I think I’m very versatile.”
Just 20 years old, Hamilton will have the luxury of working with a coaching staff that is known for its ability to develop young talent. He received strong feedback from the Nuggets after working out at the Pepsi Center on June 16.
“He’s powerful, tall, athletic and can make a shot,” Denver coach George Karl said. “We thought he was going to go a lot higher than (26). When he became available, our people got real excited. I like his size and ability to make shots.”
Hamilton was as surprised as anyone to fall to No. 26. But now that he has a home, he’s ready to work toward a contributing role in Denver.
“Some guys went earlier and some guys went later,” he said. “I think it’s the perfect situation for me. It’s not always where you’re picked; it’s the situation you’re in.”