A look back at Rip Hamilton: A moving without the ball warrior

Rip Hamilton used to have his opponents chasing him around the court.

Hamilton was one of the best at moving without the ball during his 14-year NBA career. He regularly made the right moves to shake his man and get to an open spot.

During the first three years of his career, Hamilton played for the Washington Wizards. One of his best seasons scoring the ball was his last season with Washington, when he averaged 20.0 points per game on 43.5% shooting.

Despite Hamilton putting up good numbers in Washington, his impact was felt most while he was with the Detroit Pistons. He was the perfect complement to Chauncey Billups in the backcourt in the mid-2000s, with his off-ball movements helping open a productive Pistons offense.

Below is an informative video where Hamilton taught viewers different drills he used to work on getting open.

Hamilton’s first season in Detroit was successful. He built on his scoring prowess from Washington, averaging a team-high 19.4 points per game on 44.3% shooting during the 2002-03 season.

The Pistons went to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2003, making an appearance for the first time since 1991. They were swept by the New Jersey Nets.

The 2004 Pistons were even better, though. They won the NBA title against the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. But Detroit wasn’t a high-octane offense by today’s standards, which heavily emphasizes quality 3-point shooting.

A defensive-oriented squad, the Pistons weren’t even a good offense by their era’s standards. During the 2003-04 season, the Pistons ranked 24th in points per game (90.1), 19th in field goal percentage (43.5%), and 15th in 3-point percentage (34.4%).

Still, they did excel at earning the shots they wanted — and Hamilton was a key part of that.

A skilled midrange scorer, Hamilton used his uncanny ability to come off screens and score easy buckets. During Game 3 of the 2004 NBA Finals, Hamilton had one of his best playoff performances. He scored a game-high 31 points on 50.0% shooting from the field in the Pistons’ 88-68 win.

Though the ensemble of Hamilton, Billups, Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince only won one title together, the Pistons continued to be a title contender after 2004. They lost the 2005 Finals in seven games to the San Antonio Spurs. From 2006-2008, the Pistons made three straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances and lost each of them.

Hamilton continued to thrive as one of the league’s most productive shooting guards. He was an All-Star from 2006-08, and he had his best statistical season scoring the ball during the 2005-06 campaign.

He averaged a career-high 20.1 points per game and led Detroit in scoring. He also shot a career-high 45.8% from the 3-point line and led the league in 3-point percentage.

With Hamilton playing most of his career in Detroit, he is high in some of the franchise’s record books. He ranks sixth on the Pistons’ all-time leading scorers list, tallying 11,582 points with the franchise, per Basketball Reference. He is also seventh in Pistons history for 2-point field goals (3,939).

 

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