For all of the hoopla over Jordan Hamilton’s 27 points in 19 minutes of play on Monday, the most encouraging numbers to me: 4 and 1.
Anybody with a basketball acumen north of idiocy knew it was a matter of when, not if, Jordan Hamilton would explode. Contrary to popular opinion, 6-8, 18 year old kids with range to 25 and above average handles do not grow on trees. Unless there is one tree in the world and it has, like, one fucking branch.
What I didn’t know was whether or not J’Covan Brown could actually play the point. This was based on his previous display of carelessness with the ball that would make this guy cringe. For those scoring at home it was JCB’s third game in his last 12 that he has had more assists than turnovers. The optimist in me will note that it’s two in a row.
And that is progress.
It wasn’t just the four assists to one TO. It was how he did it. As a lead guard, even when Balbay was on the court. It was a sound understanding of tempo, of when to push and when to back it out. It was knowledge of the shot and game clocks with respect to the score. A feel for when to make entry passes and when to feed the new found monster at the 3. It was not forcing shots, but still being a threat that needs to be covered in spite of the 1-6 shooting. In short, it was a solid, smart performance by a kid that hadn’t shown that he was capable of it and for a team that was in desperate need of it.
The effect this could have on the team cannot be understated. Balbay is the nation’s best on-ball defender and our best handler, but he really isn’t the greatest distributor and he will never be able to shoot. Teams just completely disregard him outside of 12 feet which causes major problems for Dex, as has been much discussed.
Lost is the fact that it also causes problems for Brown, Bradley, Hamilton and James when attempting to penetrate. In our offense, the ability to take your man off the bounce is critical. Balbay’s defender is a built in off-ball, help defender who doesn’t even have to worry about recovering. Just shut down the penetrator. Brainless and incredibly easy at this level.
Do I even have to mention the FT disparity between the two? I hope not.
We simply have to have a PG that is a threat to score in order to open up the lane for everyone, not just Dex.
JCB is our only option due to Lucas’ many shortcomings. We need JCB to be able to play the point if we have any chance to be great.
Can he do it against pressure or top end on ball defenders? I have my doubts, but the game Monday was a huge step in the right direction. Hopefully, I have underestimated this kid, which seems to be a running theme with him.
I do know that he has a case of elephantitis of the nuts. He is more than willing to whip ‘em out and see what happens and that is something this team needs. Maybe that’s enough. I sure as hell hope so.