Q+A: Jordan Hamilton
The Nuggets rookie talks shop before his NBA debut.
by Cub Buenning / @cubbuenning
Two years ago, Jordan Hamilton was one of the nation’s top prep recruits coming out of L.A.’s Dominguez High School. After finally deciding on the University of Texas, the 6-8 swingman followed up an up-and-down freshman campaign with an impressive sophomore season. With averages of 18 points and 8 rebounds and a pro-ready body, Hamilton decided he was ready to test the NBA waters and most thought he would end up somewhere midway through the first round.
Just days before the Draft, however, rumors began to swirl around some negative quotes made by JHam’s college coach Rick Barnes and the fallout led to a slight drop in his stock. It surely came as a surprise to those close to Hamilton that his preordained lottery-destined future was suddenly not realistic. His name was finally uttered toward the end of the first round at No. 26 by the reigning champion Dallas Mavericks. The natural scorer’s rights spent just a second in Dallas as he was promptly traded to the Trail Blazers. Maybe even less time was spent in Portland as he was part of a move that brought not only himself but former Nugget Andre Miller, as well, to the Mile High City in exchange for Raymond Felton.
Just days away from his first professional action with Denver, Hamilton took a few minutes out of the hustle and bustle of Nuggets’ media day to sit down with SLAMonline.
SLAM: You had a summer of lockout indecision and now you are thrust into your first training camp, talk about the first week, how has it been for you getting acclimated?
Jordan Hamilton: Coming in early was important for me. I came in before everyone else. When I heard the lockout was over, I headed out here. I worked out in the gym and the altitude got to me a little, but I’m just excited to be here.
SLAM: How did you spend your time during the lockout? Were you home in L.A. or down in Austin at all?
JH: I was in Los Angeles the whole time, working out at LMU (Loyola Marymount) with Terrell Jamison and Robbie Davis, doing strength and conditioning. Then we played some pick-up with about 20-25 NBA guys that would show up every day.
SLAM: There is obviously a need on the wing on this team, how do you feel about your position on this team? How do you think you fit right now and in the long term?
JH: I know I’m a young guy coming in and I know what they say about Coach Karl, he doesn’t play rookies. But I just think that if I compete every day and show coach that I can play and show coach that I am ready to get out there on the court. Once I get that opportunity, I’m just ready to make the best of it.
SLAM: You have obviously played at the top level in both high school and college, but coming in here have you had to make any adjustments to now playing in the professional game?
JH: I think that most rookies struggle a bit and get caught up in the fact that you’re guarding a guy that you probably been watching your whole life, but not me. I’ve grown up with some of these guys and I know most of these guys already, so I’m just excited to put on an NBA jersey and go out there and compete.
SLAM: I know you have older siblings that played and your younger brothers are players (both nationally top-rated 6-5 guards, Isaac is a junior and Daniel a sophomore at Crenshaw High), how is your family handling all this? I know your parents are probably stretched a little thin trying to keep up with all of you guys.
JH: I think it is more of an excitement for everyone, you know, my mom and dad love doing stuff like this, running around to all of our games, watching my little brothers’ games. That’s why I wear No. 1, because I’m the first child to make it to the NBA, but I think I have two younger brothers that have a really good shot to make it too.
SLAM: Do they have any ideas where they will be going next for college? Are they going to stay around home or branch out like you?
JH: Nah, they haven’t even cut their lists down yet, but it’ll be interesting to see where they end up. And you know, my older brother went to the University of Miami and I went to Texas, so you never know where they will go.
SLAM: Let’s talk about this Nuggets team specifically; there is a mix of young guys, new faces and some vets, as well. They brought Andre (Miller) back, in addition to a lot of youth, do you think this is a place you could contribute right away?
JH: We got great veterans and we have some young guys, so Andre just told me I’d probably be with the second unit, and Andre said that he would be with that second unit, so coming in just be ready to get the ball and be ready to put it up.
SLAM: You looking to score?
JH: Absolutely. That’s what I do.