Injuries held Lamont Hamilton to just 665 minutes in 37 appearances and limited effectiveness last season. His shooting numbers were significantly down in comparison to his previous stops at Bizkaia Bilbao Basket and Paris-Levallois but his presence on the floor still impacted Laboral Lutxa’s offense in a substantially positive manner. Baskonia averaged 115.6 points per 100 possessions with Hamilton in the lineup and 111.9 without him in the Spanish league, 110.7 with him in the game and 104.6 when he hit the bench in the Euroleague.
Hamilton is such an impactful player because of the versatility of his skill-set. More athletic than the average center in the European game, he can leap off the ground in a pinch and is also a good screener who looks to draw contact. He is, therefore, a good pick-and-roll player but was held to just six points off dunks, a lousy 53.1% shooting at the rim in the Euroleague and fewer than three free throws per game overall last season; numbers significantly down from his previous campaign with Bilbao (62 points off dunks, 56% two-point shooting in the Eurocup, 3.6 free throws on 24 minutes per game). Injuries, a possible decline in athleticism (he’s 30 years old) and Scariolo’s use of him could be suggested as explanations.
Scariolo utilized him as a floor spacer; freeing the path to the basket for Walter Hodge (then later Alex Refroe), the post for Andres Nocioni to bully smaller defenders and the lane for Tibor Pleiss to dive hard to the rim on pick-and-rolls. He did so because Hamilton is a tremendous asset facing the basket, with advanced ball skills for someone his size. He has great touch to deliver passes to cutters and spot-up shooters, enjoying a good vantage point from the perimeter thanks to his six-foot-10 height. He ranked fifth in the Euroleague and eighth in the Spanish league in assist rate among centers. Hamilton is also a very capable jump-shooter – hitting 37.3% of his 83 three-point attempts, with a solid release but sometimes rushing his motion a bit too much.
Hamilton didn’t get to post up as much as in Bilbao, where he proved himself a quality option (255-pound frame that helps him get good post position, touch to finish around the rim and great passing with his back to the basket) mostly playing with Alex Mumbru and Axel Hervelle, perimeter-oriented combo forwards who freed the interior for him, but was still a high usage player, using over 28% of Baskonia’s plays when he was on the floor. He led the Spanish league in usage rate among centers and ranked third in the Euroleague, posting an above average turnover rate among Europe’s elite but the lowest percentage among position peers in the domestic league. Doing most of his work from the perimeter in Victoria, he was a non-factor on the glass despite his physical profile.
Hamilton was a far less positive presence on defense. He is a functional team defender, whose main contribution is as a help defender off the weakside. Hamilton is both agile and attentive rotating inside to protect the rim. His athleticism fuels him to play above the rim on this end as well, with him ranking in the top seven in block rate in both leagues. But he was lousy defending the pick-and-roll. Scariolo had Baskonia mostly hedging, an outdated strategy only Joakim Noah and Chris Bosh really make it work these days. Hamilton is more mobile than the average center in Europe but isn’t particularly comfortable in space, and nagging injuries limted his speed covering a lot of ground.
He was a poor rebounder, posting below average defensive rebounding rates for a player his position in both leagues and Baskonia allowed considerably fewer second chances with him off the floor. That was uncommon, though, as Hamilton had been excellent crashing the glass the previous two seasons, suggesting it was injury related. His statistical impact on this end was mixed. Laboral Kutxa allowed 105.8 points per 100 possessions in his 232 Euroleague minutes (better than league average) but 114.6 in his 372 Spanish league minutes (a rate that would have ranked them fifth worst in defensive efficiency).
Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.