2016 NBA Draft Prospects: Breaking Down NBA Future of UConn's Daniel Hamilton

C.J. Moore@@CJMooreHoopsCollege Basketball National Lead WriterMay 17, 2016

Mar 13, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Daniel Hamilton (5) drives past Memphis Tigers forward Shaq Goodwin (2) during the second half of the AAC Conference tournament at Amway Center. Connecticut won 72-58. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Hamilton was one of the most perplexing early-entry players to hire an agent.

He is not a lock to get drafted, and Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie advised him to stay in school. I talked to three NBA scouts before the combine about Hamilton, and none of the three were enamored with his game.

Hamilton's measurables
Age20 (Born Aug. 8, 1995)
Connecticut Athletics

"I've seen him play a bunch, and I really just don't understand what the fascination is," one NBA scout said.

The statement above reveals there may be some segment of the scouting community that is at least intrigued by Hamilton's skill set.  Yet, he didn't help himself this past week at the combine.

He didn't test well in the agility and speed portions of the week, and he struggled in the two five-on-five games. (Hamilton had his moments on Day 2, but his numbers that day—11 points on 3-of-8 shooting and 12 rebounds—suggest he played better than he actually did.)

Relevant Stats

Daniel Hamilton by the numbers
Connecticut Athletics

Hamilton was inefficient as a scorer in his two seasons at UConn, but his rebounding and assist numbers are stellar for a wing. His defensive rebounding and assist percentages are higher than LSU's Ben Simmons and comparable to Draymond Green's numbers as a senior at Michigan State.

Hamilton vs. Ben Simmons and Draymond Green
PlayerDef. Reb. %Assist %
Daniel Hamilton (UConn), 2015-1627.029.2
Ben Simmons (LSU), 2015-1626.827.4
Draymond Green (Michigan State), 2011-1228.424.2

Hamilton's best chance to really make it in the league might be trying to remake his body so he could play a small-ball 4. Granted, that's a long shot with his thin frame, but he would be a lot more intriguing with his skill set if he projected as a playmaking power forward.


Steven Senne/Associated Press

Hamilton is at his best when he's attacking off the bounce. He has a solid handle and is effective when he gets into the paint, either setting up his teammates or scoring in the 12- to 15-foot range with an assortment of runners and leaners. He seems to have a good knack for getting shots off in that area, which is a necessity because he struggles to get to the rim in traffic.

Sometimes, he seems to set his mind that he's going to shoot. But when he's a willing passer, he can make nice passes on the move, and his size [really] helps him see potential lobs at the rim.

Hamilton's rebounding numbers are even more impressive when you consider he doesn't have long arms (measured 6'9" wingspan at the combine) and that he's not a great leaper. He is quick to the ball and has good instincts reading where it will fall off the rim.


DES MOINES, IA - MARCH 17: Daniel Hamilton #5 of the Connecticut Huskies shoots against Josh Scott #40 of the Colorado Buffaloes in the second half during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena on March 17, 2016
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

For Hamilton to make it in the NBA, he'll have to become a reliable three-point shooter, which is something he didn't show during his two seasons at UConn. Not only are the numbers not there, but his jumper looks awkward, and he doesn't always have great balance. He had only three games this past season where he made three or more shots from behind the arc.

There's just not enough there on the defensive or offensive end to make up for his lack of outside shooting. He does a solid job of getting into the teeth of the defense off the dribble, but once he's there, he doesn't have the explosiveness to get to the rim; even with his height, he could have a hard time finishing over NBA length.

Hamilton's vertical leaping numbers were poor at the combine. He had a 26-inch standing vertical—fifth-worst of those who participated and worst among perimeter players—and his 29-inch max vertical was tied for the second-worst mark.

That helps explain why he didn't finish well at the rim in college. He shot just 52.5 percent at the cup this past season, according to Hoop-Math.com's data.

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 12: Mark Williams #10 of the Temple Owls drives on Daniel Hamilton #5 of the Connecticut Huskies during a semifinal game of the 2016 AAC Basketball Tournament at Amway Center on March 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrma
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Hamilton is not a bad on-ball defender, but his focus and energy off the ball are lacking. He gets out of his stance, ball-watches and doesn't do much as a help-side defender.

The types of things he does well offensively are similar to Saint Joseph's DeAndre' Bembry, who is likely a first-round pick. But what separates Bembry, beside the fact he's a better athlete and finisher, is that he has a better feel for the game. He can work out of ball screens and doesn't get rattled if his first option isn't there.

Those are areas where Hamilton needs more time to develop and why returning to UConn would have made sense.

NBA Player Comparison

It's hard to find a wing in the NBA who is neither a plus shooter nor an athlete. One of the two is typically a must.

Hamilton's best comp might be a jack-of-all-trades type like Evan Turner who also struggles to shoot. But Turner was a much more polished prospect coming out of Ohio State, and it still took him some time to find his place in the league.

Best-Case Scenario

The best shot Hamilton has is getting drafted by a team that believes he has the makings of a rotation player and is invested in developing him at the NBA D-League. It's not out of the realm of possibility that he could become a knockdown shooter. That seems to be a must if he's going to make it in the NBA.

Worst-Case Scenario

Whether Hamilton gets drafted or not, whatever team gets his services in the NBA Summer League would be smart to wait on giving him any guaranteed money. Considering how he played in two days at the combine, it's tough to envision him performing well during summer league. Granted, the combine was a small sample size, but it's not as if he killed it in the college game.

If he does struggle in summer league, he could be looking at either riding the bench in the D-League or heading overseas.


MEMPHIS, TN - FEBRUARY 19: Daniel Hamilton #5 of the Connecticut Huskies drives to the basket for a layup against Austin Nichols #4 of the Memphis Tigers on February 19, 2015 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis defeated Connecticut 75-72. (Photo
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

While this isn't the most talented draft class, the depth isn't terrible, and I don't see enough in Hamilton's game to warrant him getting drafted in the second round over the players he's going up against.

That's not to say his decision to leave school was the wrong one. Maybe he wanted to start making money and is willing to put in time in the D-League or overseas. But if Hamilton was convinced he's ready for the NBA and felt he was a lock to play in the league next year, then he probably got some bad advice.

That's why it was weird to see him hire an agent. It would have made more sense to test the waters and then make a decision on whether or not to return to UConn.

C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @CJMooreBR.


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