Jordan Hamilton is on a path back to the NBA

Steve Helwick

You never know when your number will be called.

Months ago, former Texas Longhorns small forward Jordan Hamilton was playing professional basketball in Volgograd, Russia. The NBA and the NBA Developmental League had already given him numerous opportunities to solidify a spot as a role player on a roster.

But 6,300 miles later, Hamilton has been provided the opportunity again in the city of New Orleans. The New Orleans Pelicans’ season has already crumbled, as the team has been eliminated from the playoffs. Nine players are sitting out the rest of the season with injuries, including the team’s five leading scorers. But not all is gloomy in the Big Easy.

The Pelicans signed Hamilton to a 10-day contract on March 25. The following day was Hamilton’s first time stepping onto an NBA hardwood this season. With 145 games of NBA experience under his belt, Hamilton realizes he is playing for his future.

In four of his first five games with the Pelicans, Hamilton scored double-digit points. He has started two games, and New Orleans (29–47 overall) is 3–2 since the acquisition. Hamilton recorded a double-double in Sunday’s victory over the Brooklyn Nets, tallying 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Hamilton is expected to remain with the injury-riddled team for the remainder of the season. For a team that has employed 21 different players this season, the former first-round pick from Texas must stand out to receive a contract for next season.

Before moving around the NBA, NBA D-League and Russia, Hamilton was a highly touted prospect at Texas. He was a 2011 second-team All-American in a season when he averaged 18.6 points, the second-highest scoring average by a Longhorn since 2008, and 7.7 rebounds per game.

After leaving Texas, Hamilton’s NBA destinations have included Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and New Orleans. His D-League destinations have included Idaho, Iowa, Reno and Rio Grande Valley. At only age 25, Hamilton knows how much traveling can be involved in a professional basketball career. 

In the midst of his prime, he must replicate the performances he has posted with New Orleans to prolong his NBA career. At the beginning of this offseason, Hamilton’s “tryout” might result in one desired effect: his number being called by an NBA team.