Either way, the addition of Hamilton, a 6’7″ forward who split time with the Nuggets and Rockets last season, brings the roster to 16 players heading into training camp. Given that the roster limit stands at 15, the Raptors will have some decisions to make before the 2014-15 campaign gets under way.So under those circumstances, it is far from a sure thing that Hamilton will break camp with the Raptors.
The reason why the Raptors specifically wanted to sign the 23-year-old California native is fairly easy to explain: Chosen 26th overall by Dallas in 2011, Hamilton was acquired by then Denver general Masai Ujiri on draft night.
This isn’t the first time Ujiri has reached back to his ties to the Nuggets in an attempt to find players to fill out the back end of his roster in Toronto. Last summer, in fact, Ujiri signed guard Julyan Stone, who appeared in 26 games over two seasons with the Nuggets beginning in 2011-12.
Stone made only 21 appearance for the Raptors in 2013-14 and logged a total of 120 minutes before being waived by Toronto in July.
As for Hamilton, here’s a look at his career numbers prior to arriving in Toronto.
And just for fun, this is how his numbers project on a per 36 minutes basis.
In general, Hamilton is regarded as an athletic swing man — capable of playing small forward or shooting guard — with the range to knock down shots from beyond the 3-point arc. But with the help of TSN.ca, here is a more pointed look at Hamilton’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Athletic and gifted scorer
- Can find and create his own shot using a variety of moves in one-one-one situations
- Has the tools to be a well-rounded player
- Could do more at the defensive end, considering his size and athletic ability
- Not the greatest distributor
- Scoring is the only dimension to his game
Now entering his fourth season in the NBA, perhaps Hamilton will be motivated to show that he is becoming a more complete player. Leading up to training camp with the Nuggets in 2013-14, however, Joel Rush had the following to say in his blog post titled, Jordan Hamilton may be squandering his best opportunity to crack the rotation:
“But Hamilton has not yet proven very capable of translating his raw skills to reliable production on the court in real game situations. The flashes of talent he’s shown at times have pointed to the hopeful possibility of his becoming a very good NBA player in the future. But that upside has always seemed to reside on the horizon, just out of reach.
“Now is the time for Hamilton to prove that his potential is not just a mirage. Despite the fact he hasn’t been starting, with Gallo and Chandler out he’s been getting the playing time necessary to showcase his game and prove to Shaw that he’s worthy of a place in the rotation. It’s the best chance he’s had to make his mark thus far in his career, and if he doesn’t capitalize on it he may not get many more.”
At the trade deadline, after appearing in 39 games and making 11 starts for the Nuggets, Hamilton was traded to the Rockets, where his overall playing time and production were both essentially the same.
What Hamilton is able to do with the opportunity that he now has in Toronto will be interesting to watch unfold. Making the team won’t be out of the realm of possibility, but he would likely find himself quite low on the depth chart.
The Raptors already have Terrence Ross and James Johnson — a tandem that will likely see the bulk of the minutes at the small forward spot — as well as Landry Fields. There is also plenty of depth at the shooting guard position with DeMar DeRozan and Lou Williams.
One thing that Hamilton can do to help his chances is to make a commitment to playing defense, a seemingly mandatory requirement to earn playing time in coach Dwane Casey’s system.
However, he might also endear himself to the coaching staff and players by doing what he does best at an even higher level.
Earlier this summer, the Raptors signed point guard Will Cherry to a one-year deal that is also believed to be partially guaranteed.
As the math indicates, there will not be room for both Hamilton and Cherry on the roster, with each player in the similar position of competing for back-up minutes. Along those lines, I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up being the two hardest working players (for Toronto) in the preseason.
I’m inclined to say that if either of these players were to make the team, it would be Hamilton, but that isn’t based on anything concrete.
What I can with certainty, though, is that the internal competition level at training camp is going to be intense and everyone wearing a Raptors uniform will benefit.