Justin Hamilton is a 25 year old 213cm center that was born in Newport Beach, California and grew up in Alpine, Utah. He is currently playing in Europe for Valencia Basket (Spain-Liga Endesa). He started his basketball career in 2008 with LSU(NCAA) and as a senior played 32 games averaging 12.7ppg, 7.2rpg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 76.6%, IN the summer of 2012 he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA,2rd(45). He started his professional basketball career in 2012 with KK Cibona VIP Zagreb (Croatia-A1, starting five): Eurocup: 5 games: 7.8ppg, 3.4rpg, 2FGP: 56.0%, FT: 91.7%; Adriatic League: 16 games: 8.1ppg, 5.6rpg, 2FGP: 62.8%, FT: 63.6%, in Jan.’13 moved to VEF Riga (Latvia-LBL): 5 games: 21.8ppg, 9.6rpg, 1.4spg, FGP: 61.6%, FT: 86.4%; VTB League: 4 games: 9.3ppg, 5.8rpg. In the 2013-2014 season he played for the Miami Heat (NBA): 7 games: 3.7ppg, 1.0rpg, also played at Sioux Falls Skyforce (D-League): 39 games: 19.2ppg, 9.3rpg, 1.5apg, 2.0bpg, FGP: 51.0%, 3PT: 37.8%, FT: 80.1%. Last season he played for the Miami Heat (NBA): 24 games: 2.8ppg, 2.0rpg, in Mar.’15 signed at Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA): 17 games: 9.0ppg, 5.1rpg, 1.4apg, 1.1spg, 1.5bpg, FGP: 53.5%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 82.5%. He spoke to German Hoops recently before the Euro cup game against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg.
Justin, thanks for talking to German Hoops. After playing your rookie season in Croatia and Latvia, you spent your first Christmas and New Year in Spain. What was it like spending the holiday season in this European country?
I had a great Christmas and had my brother in town. It was great spending time with my family. But we had games around Christmas and New Year so it felt like the regular season for me.
What New Year resolutions have you set for yourself as Justin Hamilton the professional basketball player and the person?
I don´t necessarily make New Year resolutions, but moreover set goals in the summer. I just want to keep my goals I set and have a real good year with Valencia.
How much fun has it been playing for Valencia this season who are 15-0 in the Endesa league and 7-0 in the Eurocup? What is the secret to the success of the team in both competitions?
It has been a really good season for us so far. The secret to our success is that we have got a long very well from day one and are all very competitive. We have worked very well together from day one which is very rare in professional sports. We also have very good team chemistry.
You are preparing for Eurocup action against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. You were once in Germany this season playing ratiopharm Ulm. What do you know in general about German basketball and it´s country?
I don´t know too much about Germany. I actually played against Ulm my rookie season with Cibona as well. I know that there are very good teams and players in the league
You were 0-2 against German players Dennis Schroeder and Dirk Nowitzki. Where does a Nowitzki rank with opponents that you will have challenged in the NBA?
I unfortunately didn´t play against Dirk. I was ruled out for the game as I had a minor injury. It was too bad that I couldn´t play, but maybe there will be a chance in the future. I played a few times against Dennis Schroeder. He is very a good player and very very fast. He is always getting better.
How enjoyable has it been playing together with ex Minnesota Timberwolf Bogdan Dubljevic. What set´s your games apart? You rarely start games together.
It has been very enjoyable playing together with him. We usually split quarters. It is very tough for teams to guard us and having us sub in and out and having two quality guys coming. We challenge ourselves very well in practice.
You can score, rebound and are a powerful shooter from outside. At this stage of your career, what is the most important thing that you want to improve most?
I want to improve my consistency most- I am shooting the ball very well now and want to continue that. Teams tend to find a way to take my shot away so now it is important to find the open shots and knock them down.
You can do many things well on the court, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
I think running the court is something that doesn´t always get noticed as much. I am pretty fast overall and just try to outrun guys and take advantage of what they give me. When I am playing against slower guys, I try to use my speed to beat them and when I am matched up against smaller guys use my strength to beat them.
Last season you split time with the Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves playing a total of 41 NBA games. What did you really cherish about your first full season in the NBA and what didn´t you like so much?
I enjoyed getting the opportunity to play in the NBA and get as many minutes as possible. The worst part last season was getting injured with the Miami Heat and missing valuable minutes. I enjoyed playing with the Miami Heat and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
What was the most challenging thing about competiting with Chris Anderson on a daily basis and what did you learn from his game?
Chris Anderson is a relentless motor. He is one of those guys that just keeps going and going despite getting older. I really enjoyed competiting against him in practice on a daily basis.
You really got to see minutes with the Minnesota Timberwolves scoring in double figures 8 times. Wouldn´t this have been the biggest motivation to return to the NBA. Why did you decide to come back to Europe?
That is just how it goes sometimes. I had interest here and there. It always depends who signs where especially concerning the high market guys. I wanted to be in a situation where I could keep playing. I felt that Valencia was the best situation for me.
You were teammates with Ricky Rubio. What do you remember the most incredible pass him doing in a game or practice?
There were so many incredible passes that he made when I was there. Just playing with him was so easy. I remember the first game that I played with him. He made some passes that most other guys can´t make. I was sad when he was out with an ankle injury.
I watched many Summer League games of you with the Miami Heat in 2014 and since I cover the Fraport Skyliners.
Ah yes I remember oh I can´t remember his name.
Let me help you Danilo Barthel.
You come across many players, but what memories do you have of German forward Danilo Barthel?
I remember Danilo having a very good shot and being very athletic for his size. He impressed the Miami Heat very much. He showed up and turned heads at the NBA Summer League.
What kind of relationship did you have with him? Do you remember any conversations with him about basketball in general?
I didn´t have much conversations with Danilo. In the Summer League you get thrown together for a couple of weeks and it´s hard building relationships. I remember him telling me where he was from and where he played. He was a very good guy. He was very competitive and spirited.
What was your wake up call to be a rookie in Europe in the 2013-2014 season where you knew that you were far away from Utah?
I didn´t have a wake up call in the sense of being far away from home as my family is Croatian, but it had to do more with the basketball part. It was a big adjustment mentally as the European way was a lot different than what I saw in the States like having two practices a day.
You played at LSU for head coach Trent Johnson. How did he groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Johnson was an old school type of coach. He tells it how it is and makes you work. He had coached many big guys that had gone to the NBA and kind of steered me on that path. He always told me to work on my game and do the little things.
Have you heard any classic Jack Sikma stories or does Luke hold back from telling any?
Luke tells a few here and there. Actually Jack was here at Christmas time. It was good to see him. They are a great family.
Have you seen the new Star Wars movie? What was your impression and how did you like it compared to the earlier ones?
I did see it and I thought it was a good movie. I thought they did a good job going on from the first movies to this one. I am excited to see where they will take it to.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Agent 47 Hit man.
Thanks Justin for the chat.