It has been nearly 40 days and 40 nights since the Rockets determined that they needed to be an agent of change once again. That said change was the February 20th trade deadline swap that sent veteran Rockets’ point guard Aaron Brooks to the Mile High City in exchange for guard-forward Jordan Hamilton, a budding prospect.
Through 20 games, at about 26 minutes per, Brooks has been averaging about 12 points, five dimes and two turnovers all while shooting more than 40 percent from the field for the Nuggets.
These numbers exceed what he was able to average with the Rockets in his second stint and he seems to have fit in nicely backing up Ty Lawson, a dynamic point guard who has become the Nuggets’ cornerstone.
In essence, the Rockets were dealing with a unique situation of being overstocked with too many guards — Aaron Brooks was the odd man out with James Harden, Patrick Beverley and Jeremy Lin commanding most of the minutes on the floor at that position.
Brooks, 29, wanted to remain a Houston Rocket but decided to agree to the deal in the best interest of providing a valuable contribution to a team that desperately needed some depth at the guard spot.
Shortly after the trade was agreed upon in principle that day, Brooks spoke with the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen – he said that it was “a tough decision” to approve the trade and that “just the opportunity to play, that was the main factor.”
He also mentioned to Feigen that “it was a tough situation. They’re playing great, great, great right now. I wanted to be a part of it. Houston is in my heart.”
With me trying to channel what the Rockets’ brass were thinking before the trigger was pulled, it was apparent that there was at a deficit at the three-spot — Hamilton seemed to be the obvious fit with extraordinary upside because of the versatility of his game – he could potentially pitch in even at the swingman spot having some experience at that position.
He also is in the final year of rookie contract which can make him a valuable asset to include in a deal if the Rockets were to make a run for another superstar such as Carmelo Anthony who has been rumored to be a top target.
Hamilton, 23, has averaged about seven points a game, snagging three rebounds in 17 minutes of action through 15 games. Most of his numbers have been roughly flat since joining the Rockets but he is shooting 45 percent from the field which is above his season average of around 40 percent.
He continues to be a valuable part of the Rockets’ rotation but has regressed a bit after an impressive start with his first couple of games. The high school standout as well as the 2011 draft pick out of the University of Texas has yet to reach his potential but he does have a wonderful opportunity to do it here in Houston.
Looking at where he fits in best so far as far as efficiency, it’s when he is filling in for Chandler Parsons, the multi-faceted small forward. Because Parsons has been primarily healthy and with him being the better player, it’s rare that Hamilton is on the floor with the rest of the starters. When he’s combined with Beverley, Harden, Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones, there is a slight uptick in efficiency numbers.
This lineup has been used three times so far for about 11 minutes per instance but this combination’s field goal percentage trends slightly upward to about 50 percent shooting 72 percent from the charity stripe – closer to the usual starting five’s pattern of production — with a point differential of about a 2.0. Although these numbers are paltry for this short stretch he has been a Rocket, it displays that he has the ability to pitch in when needed to do what is asked of him.
In other statistics that matter, each of their Player Efficiency Ratings (PER) hover around a 13 which is close to in line with the league average.
Hamilton’s and Brooks’ Value Added (VA) rating remains at a 33.9 and 36 respectively which means they both are not the most deficient on their respective rosters and are providing a solid contribution to their team’s production when needed.
As the Rockets position themselves for the playoffs while Nuggets are coasting to the end with their postseason chances next to nil, it remains to be seen what’s in store for both players as far as their futures but it’s clearly evident that this trade has fulfilled both franchise’s needs.
This wasn’t a blockbuster trade by any means but one that deserves a look in terms of how shrewd the Rockets are at managing assets. I can honestly assert that Daryl Morey has continued his prominence as a master magician that usually listens and looks for ways to improve the basketball team that I love. I feel that since his arrival seven years ago, Rockets’ fans are lucky to have someone of his aptitude and it will be intriguing to follow the progress of both players as time goes on.
Both players will have an opportunity to square off against their former teams for the first time since the trade this Sunday at Toyota Center.