To many current NBA stars, Michael Jordan is larger than life.
All Richard Hamilton cares about is that MJ is too large to play two-guard, because that's where Hamilton is better off starting.
Beginning his third season, the 6-foot-7 swingman was selected seventh overall in the 2000 NBA Draft by Washington, following a stellar three-year career at
UConn, where he helped the Huskies win the National Championship.
The Outstanding Player of the 1999 Final Four showed flashes of brilliance in
limited roles as a rookie, then, last season, laid waste to the sophomore
jinx, doubling his scoring (18.1 ppg), rebounding (3.1), assists (2.9), and
nearly tripled his steals (75). All it took was playing time.
Once he was inserted into the starting five, "Rip" excelled. He averaged six points more per game than he did coming off the bench (20.9 vs. 14.9), and he shot much better (46.5 vs. 39.9).
Those numbers should improve, as opponents focus their attention on Michael,
which should lead to more open shots for Hamilton.
While Rip won't double his points-per-game average as he did last season,
it's a good bet he'll improve his game while serving as the No. 2 threat
That's not a bad role to play. Just ask Scottie Pippen.
-- Jon Cooper, Special to CNNSI.com