Rip Hamilton: The Best Without The Basketball

Yesterday, everyone a part of the TrueHoop Network took part in a “GM Poll” asking a large number of NBA-related questions (I couldn’t vote for any Nets’ related players so if Terrence Williams doesn’t get a ROY vote, that’s why).  It basically is the same thing as the actual GM polls except that us bloggers were answering the questions.  There was one question that really caught my eye, and it went something along the lines of “Who moves the best without the basketball?”  My answer.  Rip Hamilton.

As I have said many times on this blog (probably to the point where you are tired of hearing it), I am a big Xs and Os guy.  My dad was a coach, and I guess that is something he instilled in me.  Sure I enjoy talking stats (probably not as well as some people in the network), but deep down, I love the Xs and Os part of the game.

So it shouldn’t surprise you that when I was younger, I used to love watching Reggie Miller play.  I can remember sitting down on the couch every time the Pacers were on TV on many occasions.  He was the best without the basketball, and when he retired I was wondering who I could watch next.  Enter Rip Hamilton.  Watching Rip play is just a joy really.  The way that he uses his hands, his body to get defenders off-balanced and set them up for screens was amazing.  I don’t think I have seen such a good shooter get so many wide open looks just because he knew how to set up screens.

That was the thing that always got me, in the NBA you basically know everybody’s sets.  All the games are on TV, and you got coaches who’s job it is to figure out what sets are run when.  With that being said, defenders knew that screens were coming, but Rip always found a way to wiggle open.  My favorite was watching him run off double screens.  If the defender somehow managed to stick with Rip after the first screen, Rip would find a way to make sure he got blasted by the second.

To make this Nets-related (and I guess we should since this is a Nets blog), we can look back to when Rip slammed the door on our playoff chances last year.  It was the 79th game in early April, and the Nets were clinging on to their playoff lives.  Down by five with about 30 seconds, the Nets needed a stop, but it didn’t happen because…well…Rip happened.  Now I am not going to bother you with the whole post (you can click here if you want the in-depth break down…which you should, because it’s awesome), but here is the short video clip of the play.

Just watch Rip.  The subtle slide down to set up the screen and to make sure the help takes longer to get there.  The way he steps into the pass to receive it, the shot.  It is all beautiful to watch…I mean seriously, you are the team’s best shooter and you manage to get that wide open, you have to be doing something right.