This wasn't the kind of signing you could pin your season on. Hamilton was a pickup in late February as the Clippers hunted for players to round out their 15-man roster. Although he got some playing time early, injuries and inconsistency prevented him from ever carving out a larger role. Hamilton has been a journeyman to this point in his young career, but has shown flashes of potential during his time in Denver, Houston, and the D-League before coming to Los Angeles. Could he be an answer next season?
|Hamilton's contract for next season is a non-guaranteed minimum (allowing the Clippers to cut ties at a discount until next January 10th, when it becomes fully guaranteed)
Jordan Hamilton is probably the team's best bet at internal improvement this offseason, depending on how you feel about C.J. Wilcox. Apart from a season in Denver, he's had trouble cracking the rotation — but this is perhaps less his own failing than it is on his situation, as he was buried on multiple 50+ win teams in the competitive Western Conference.
His talents are a good fit for the Clippers. A lanky 6'7'' swingman, Hamilton is a young and athletic small forward on a team that would very much like one. He possesses a decent outside shot and has demonstrated the ability to be a facilitator on offense in the D-League, where he averaged 16.8/7.4/3.5 for the Reno Bighorns this season (bear in mind that the Bighorns played at a ludicrously fast pace, often scoring — and giving up — 150 points in a single game).
When he got a chance with the Clippers, he had a few bright moments. In early March, Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford were both injured for a brief stretch, forcing Doc Rivers to start the recently-signed Hamilton in consecutive games v. Minnesota and Portland (the second game was the infamous Blazers comeback, in which Hedo Turkoglu played 37 minutes). The Wolves game was probably his best as a Clipper, as he scored 10 points and finished with a team-high +14.
Hamilton returned to the bench when Barnes got healthy, and spent some time as the backup SF. Unfortunately, Hamilton suffered a leg injury in a March loss to Houston (Blake's return game), a game that should have been one of his brightest as a Clipper, as he scored 8 points in 11 minutes in the first half. Afterwards, he never really got to play except in extended garbage time minutes, falling out of favor with Doc entirely. There, he never really got a chance to do much playing alongside more experienced veterans and confident gunners, deferring to his teammates.
Hamilton's future with the Clippers is uncertain; he's not an important piece of the puzzle and could be thrown into a trade sometime this offseason to make the numbers work. As a 13th or 14th man on this team, he's easily replaceable and probably doesn't figure much into the team's plans.
Optimistically, he sticks around with the Clippers and becomes a contributor next season at small forward, absorbing backup minutes and proving some quality games off the bench for a championship contender. An offseason training with this team could bring more out of him, as playing alongside veterans like Chris Paul and Blake Griffin help him take his game to new heights (relatively speaking).
But Hamilton also comes with his flaws, especially on the defensive end. When he did get to play, too often he lost his man off-the-ball or got worked by a superior offensive player. A low defensive IQ does him no favors trying to break into Doc's rotation. And overall, Hamilton is a very limited player, one who doesn't have any standout strengths forcing the coaching staff to give him minutes, or the all-around game to become a consistent contributor. He might get there, but it'll take more than a few lucky breaks and a coaching staff and environment that can help him make the most out of his talents. It remains to be seen if the Clippers are that team.