Yesterday, in the Malik Monk piece, I hypothesized about the effects that truly great jump shooters such as Klay Thompson and Kyle Korver have on offense. Today we add the Richard Hamilton addendum.
Yesterday we hypothesized that those who shoot three-pointers off movement may affect their team’s offense to a greater extent. However, there’s a second question that naturally follows. If this is true, are three-pointers an important part of the equation? Or is it just the movement of the shooter that creates this effect?
Which of course makes Richard Hamilton a perfect test case. Of course, Hamilton has some strengths and faults that cloud the issue. He wasn’t nearly as strong a True Shooting Percentage player as many of those discussed yesterday. At least not consistently. And he was a much better passer than basically all of them, save perhaps Ray Allen.
We’ll have to keep those aspects of Hamilton’s game in mind. Because Hamilton could move like this:
And what’s better is that Hamilton rarely shot three-pointers. Never more than 2 attempts per 36 until he was on the decline.
A Look at the Numbers
Now first let us refresh our memory by looking at yesterday’s data table. (per Basketball-Reference)
Now let’s look at Richard Hamilton.
1) Now I should point out that I didn’t include all of Richard Hamilton’s years with the Pistons. 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 aren’t on the list. And in those seasons, there’s no positive correlation between Hamilton’s presence on the court and the team’s Assist Percentage.
Indeed, the relationship is about as negative as it is positive in 2004-2005.
2) However, I also didn’t include the last three years of Hamilton’s career, and in two out of the three, the relationship is almost as positive as in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. +10 net Assist Percentage. +1.5 net Assist Percentage. +7 net Assist Percentage.
This despite Hamilton changing teams for the last two. As he finished his career with Chicago.
3) Now, I don’t know why there would be a difference as regard Hamilton’s first two seasons with the Pistons and the last nine seasons of Richard Hamilton’s career. However, the rest of Hamilton’s career, we see a correlation that seems moderate to dramatic, depending on the season and the quality of the point guards he was paired with.
Some of this relationship is almost certainly due to the fact that Hamilton was an excellent passer. Around 5 assists per 36 in his best seasons. So there’s no way to speak with any certainty about the effect of Hamilton’s movement without the basketball on the Pistons offense.
And yet, considering what we know about the way that Richard Hamilton used to play along with what we learned from the first table, it wouldn’t be surprising to us if Hamilton’s movement itself, above and beyond Hamilton’s scoring and passing, was influencing the Piston’s offense in a positive way.
It really wouldn’t be all that surprising were it the case. NBA coaches runs sets and plays with multiple options and variations for a reason. And yet, knowing that’s the case, having players on your team that can threaten an opponent just with movement then takes on a good deal of value of its own.