Daniel Hamilton of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots against Willy Hernangomez of the Charlotte Hornets during the 2018 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 6, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Hamilton’s ‘long journey’ has led to opportunity with Hawks

Daniel Hamilton got a message immediately after news broke that he agreed to a one-year deal with the Hawks last month.

Tyler Dorsey welcomed his former AAU and high school teammate to Atlanta.

The message: “This is a great organization,” said Dorsey, a second-round pick of the Hawks last year. “This will be fun.”

Hamilton, 23, signed his guaranteed deal on Monday. The 6-foot-7 guard/forward began workouts at the Hawks practice facility Tuesday.

Hamilton is from Los Angeles and attended Crenshaw High before moving to St. John Bosco for two seasons. It was there he played with Dorsey, who is from Pasadena. The two have been back in Los Angeles recently, taking part in open gyms at UCLA. Hawks teammate Taurean Prince and a list of NBA players including Kevin Durant, Trey Burke and Rudy Gobert also have taken part in the workouts.

Hamilton’s path to the NBA has not been as direct as his high school teammate. Hamilton played two seasons at Connecticut, was drafted in the second round by the Nuggets, traded to the Thunder, spent a full season with Oklahoma City’s NBA G League team and, last season, was on a two-way contract with the Thunder. He played on the Thunder’s entry in the Las Vegas Summer League in July before he accepted a deal with the Hawks.

“It went by fast but it felt like a long journey,” Hamilton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week. “… There are different levels to it. Each and every level, I get tougher. That’s why I train and put the work in, to be prepared for moments like this.”

As part of his two-way contract last season, Hamilton played six games with the Thunder. He averaged 2.0 points and 1.3 assists in 4.7 minutes with a .455 field goal percentage, including .400 from 3-point range. In 45 games with the Thunder’s G League affiliate, the Blue, he averaged 16.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.2 steals in 32.8 minutes.

Hamilton said the message from the Hawks was simple.

“They just told me to come in and be the best version of me I can be,” he said. “Just be me.”

And who is me?

“Me is facilitating, getting teammates better,” Hamilton said. “Knocking down the open shot. Playing defense. Being able to guard different positions. Just being versatile. Versatility is my biggest asset.”

Hamilton said he recently showed his versatility by playing some point guard for the Thunder in summer league.

The Hawks have 15 players on guaranteed contracts, including Hamilton’s $1.4 million deal. It’s a young roster, that includes five draft picks entering their first or second season. For that reason, Hamilton sees optimism. 

“You definitely have a chance and an opportunity,” he said. “Everyone is going to compete and try to earn what they get.”

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