Too many think the Pistons, not Richard Hamilton nor his age, deserve blame for Hamilton’s struggles.
The argument goes something like this: Hamilton must play with a traditional point guard, a skilled passer. Otherwise, his talents go wasted. Neither Rodney Stuckey nor Will Bynum complement Hamilton, so it’s unfair to criticize Hamilton when he’s been placed in such an unfavorable situation.
Well, for the first time since trading Chauncey Billups, the Pistons have a traditional point guard: Tracy McGrady. Although he was a volume scorer most of his career, McGrady has incredible passing skills, and they’re the primary part of his game in Detroit.
Now, it took the Pistons time to figure out McGrady could play point guard, so he played wing early in the season. Once McGrady became Detroit’s backup point guard, Ben Gordon began to emerge from his slump. Many called for him to start over Hamilton. The Hamilton backers cried that wasn’t fair because Gordon looked good only because he played alongside McGrady. Gordon didn’t have to play next to Stuckey, like Hamilton did. If Hamilton got minutes with McGrady, he’d look good, too. Then, McGrady moved to the starting lineup with Gordon, only fueling those who claimed Hamilton wasn’t getting a fair shake.
Well, Hamilton has had his turn playing with McGrady as his point guard. It hasn’t helped.
I counted McGrady as the point guard for the Pistons’ November win over the Bobcats, when he started over a suspended Rodney Stuckey, and for every game since John Kuester adjusted his rotation in December. Here’s how McGrady’s presence at point guard has affected Hamilton’s points per 36 minutes, true shooting percentage and offensive rating:
|Point guard||MIN||PTS/36||TS%||O RTG*|
*Split by Hamilton’s total playing time with McGrady, not limited to the games McGrady played point guard
Hamilton has actually played worse offensively with McGrady as his point guard this season. He scores less often and less efficiently with McGrady at point, and the Pistons’ offense also suffers when McGrady joins Hamilton on the court.
McGrady, or any other traditional point, won’t act as a magic elixir for all Hamilton’s woes. Hamilton needs the Fountain of Youth.