“Gamer” Daniel Hamilton Continues to Fill Up the Stat Sheet

The Thunder’s Summer League team was down 21 points at halftime. It’s go-to playmaker Daniel Hamilton hadn’t shot it well. Things weren’t looking too good on Thursday as the Memphis Grizzlies racked up buckets and stymied the Thunder’s offense.

But Hamilton, the do-it-all guard who was named to the All-NBA G League West Team in 2017-18 for the Oklahoma City Blue did what he’s done many, many times before – compete. With a dizzying array of defensive rebounds that led to sprinting runouts, Hamilton helped spark an 11-0 run to start the second half and in the fourth quarter, broke down the defense for two lobs to teammates, alley-oop dunks for PJ Dozier and Terrance Ferguson.

With the comeback momentum flowing, Hamilton, described as a “gamer” by Blue Head Coach and Summer League Head Coach Mark Daigneault, buried a top-of-the-key three-pointer to pull the Thunder within 4 points at 81-77 with two minutes to go. Suddenly where there had been hopelessness, there was life.

Alas, the clock ran out on the Thunder’s comeback, and it will play its final game in Las Vegas on Friday at 7:30 p.m. CT against the Orlando Magic as a part of the consolation round of Summer League’s tournament schedule.

Over the course of the four games in Vegas thus far, Hamilton’s shooting stroke has been off kilter, and he’s still finding the balance on his drives to not get caught in traffic. But in 26.0 minutes per game, Hamilton has racked up averages of 8.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists. The Thunder has aimed to transition Hamilton to a lead guard role, and that’s what Hamilton has focused on accomplishing.

“I just try to show leadership,” Hamilton said earlier this year. “The most important thing is not turning the ball over and just continuing to get my teammates involved.”

Last season, Hamilton scored his first NBA points in his hometown of Los Angeles while seeing some late game action for the Thunder, but only played in 6 games for a total of 28 minutes. It was with the Blue where Hamilton really showed out, as the Thunder’s first ever two-way player, taking advantage of the provision that allows for 17 roster spots, including two that have the opportunity to spend 45 days with the NBA club, and the rest of the season with their G-League affiliate.

With the Blue, Hamilton averaged 16.1 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game. The former University of Connecticut standout who the Thunder acquired after he was selected number 56 overall in the 2016 NBA Draft has continued to refine his game from a shooting guard who primarily scored off of pin downs and off-ball movement into a player who creates, scores and distributes with the ball in his hands.

“Daniel has shown significant strides in his development since entering our program,” said Thunder General Manager and Vice President Sam Presti.

Hamilton’s style – a tall, rebounding guard who can push the pace in transition and fill the stat sheet across the board should be quite the familiar sight for Thunder fans. While the players are certainly different and their skills must be taken into account in game-planning, there’s a pace of play with which Hamilton and the Thunder Summer League squad have been putting on the court this past week that the parent club would like to implement next season. Up-tempo, ball-sharing and free-flowing offense could lend itself to the Thunder’s strengths, and the Summer League squad is trying out some new, related offensive concepts for the organization to evaluate. Hamilton is playing a role this Summer League, and it just might help once the act hits the main stage in October.

“The pace of play and the way the ball is moving, this is not like a one-off,” said Daigneault. “Everything we’re doing out here is designed to trickle up or to be experimented with or to be evaluated, both the personnel and the way we’re playing.”

Summer League: Daniel Hamilton