If you ever jump out of your RSS reader and read the comments on this site, chances are you've come across Boney. Hell, if you read the comments section of any NBA blog, chances are you've come across Boney. And if you have, you know he's not afraid to out on a limb with an off-the-wall opinion. He tries to explain one of those below. Obviously, these are his opinions, not mine.
(Note: this was written before Game 1 of the Magic series.)
I've taken a lot of heat over the course of the last year or so (between the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals and now) regarding my thoughts on current Detroit Piston shooting guard, Richard Hamilton. My thoughts and words have been met with great defense and anger from fellow Piston fans and even UConn alums. You guys have to realize one thing though: I did not like Michael Jordan, and being from the Washington DC area I do not like the Washington teams. So you ask yourself, "Boney, what does your dislike for MJ and Washington have to do with Richard Hamilton?".
Fast forward to 1:57…
That's reason #1 why I don't like Richard Hamilton. Hamilton was in his 3rd year in the league when he began emulating an aging Michael Jordan. He did the fist pump, he missed the 3 pointers just like MJ, and his dunks barely scraped over the rim just like MJ's. A small forward at UConn, Rip was put in the shooting guard position with the Washington Wizards where shot a very "Larry Hughes" like 42%, 43%, and 43% from the field during his tenure with the Wizards yet he carried himself as if he was something special.
When he was traded to Detroit for Jerry Stackhouse and a plate of scraps I wasn't excited. I thought the combination of Chauncey Billups with Jerry Stackhouse and the rest of the bench would give the Pistons one of the better backcourts in the league, even though Billups had only proven his value in the 1 year in Minnesota before signing for the MLE to become Detroit's starting PG under Rick Carlisle.
Hamilton surprised me with his ability to come off screens and improve his shooting % 4 or 5 points by simply getting more open looks off the screens. You hardly ever see a guy improve his % while still shooting the same shots, but Hamilton did. Kudos to him, right?
When I watch other teams in the NBA, that have beat out Detroit for an NBA title in recent years though I see a shooting guard on the floor that has the ability to dribble the ball and take it to the rack. I've discussed my concerns with this current Piston team with Matt, and my main concern is the fact that now with Ben Wallace gone, we are so balanced on offense that we have watched this team go from having "go to guys" to now "anyone can kill you at anytime". Where does Richard Hamilton create a problem in this equation? He's the one whose offensive game is so reliant on people setting him up for his shots.
Ben Wallace used to set crushing picks 2 and 3 times a possession to get Hamilton looks on those curls or step back midrange jumpers. Now with Antonio McDyess and Rasheed all viable options on the offensive end, these big men are constantly looking for the pass that is going to come from Billups who distributes the ball to the player in the best position to score. With Wallace, he never touched the ball on offense so the 3 other guys moved without the ball and Chauncey distributed it.
With the Heat you had Dwyane Wade, with the Spurs Manu killed us in '05, with the Cavs it was LeBron who created advantages that his teammates abused Detroit on. With the Spurs it's Tony Parker also who can get to the rack with relative ease and dish out to Brent Barry who isn't going to be anyone's first option on offense, or even Bruce Bowen. Every team in the league has a guy who can take the ball to the rack with reckless abandon playing the SG or SF position, including Detroit (Rodney Stuckey).
Basketball is about creating mismatches, and Detroit does as good a job as any team in creating mismatches. Just imagine though if a Corey Maggette or a Manu Ginobili came off the bench for Detroit while Arron Afflalo started at the SG position. Our bench does not have players who have killer instincts yet on the offensive side of the ball, so when Maxiell, Amir, Stuckey, Ratliff, etc come in, they need a guy who can fill it up when they can't. Detroit 4 core guys without Rip can score almost at will on anyone, when their minds are in the game. We saw it the first few games of the year when Tayshaun was playing lights out with Rip out. Detroit's starting 5 are used to playing 4 on 5 on the offensive end of the court, it's why the Spurs have been successful and it's why Detroit won in 04 and made it to the Finals in 05. They shut down a guy for the opposing team, and the "defensive specialist" hustled and set picks and cleaned up the glass on offense.
This is why I propose that Detroit trade Richard Hamilton. I love his aggressiveness, I don't mind his technical fouls, but he's too aggressive for his abilities. He's not the best ball handler, actually I feel he's one of the worst ball handlers at his position in the NBA. He's whistled for more carries and palming violations than anyone I've seen. He isn't effective at the jab step before he dribbles, he's often called for a traveling violation because he moves his pivot foot. At the end of quarters and halves I cringe when he calls for the ball at mid-court to run a last second play, because he cannot create his own shot.
Hamilton played great in Games 5 and 6 for this team. I felt like an ass for calling him a "b*tch" during Game 4, so for that I apologize. So I'll eat crow for that… But remember…
Larry Hughes can score 16-20 points a night shooting 42% just like Hamilton did with the Wizards, and we know how much Hughes sucks. Hamilton is a product of the system in Detroit (see: Kurt Warner in St. Louis, Trent Green in Kansas City, etc). His value is at an all time high right now, and that's why I propose to trade him this offseason. With several big names coming up in free agency AFTER next season, now is the time to groom Stuckey and Afflalo to step up in year 2 of their 3 year rookie contract to prove whether or not they're going to make it. Sheed will be a free agent after next season, and dumping Hamilton's contract will free up $20m+ in salary going into the period in which names like LeBron, DWade, etc will all be free agents. I'm not saying I want those guys, but look at that list and tell me there aren't guys on there in their 20's that you wouldn't want to have on this team to play alongside with, and lead, this young group of studs we have sitting on our bench.