No. 3: Rip Hamilton
A lot of NBA fans recognize Richard “Rip” Hamilton from his days with the Detroit Pistons but they forget he actually suited up for the Washington Wizards prior.
In fact, it was with the Wizards when he developed into a lethal midrange shooter.
His talent was recognized before entering the league. After scoring 27 points to give the Connecticut Huskies a championship over the Duke Blue Devils in the 1999 NCAA Division I championship game, Hamilton hit the draft.
The Wizards drafted him as the seventh overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft. He only averaged nine points in his rookie campaign but his very first game caught everyone off guard. On Nov. 2, 1999, he scored 10 points as the Wizards handed the Atlanta Hawks a 94-87 loss. What made it extra speical was the fact that he only played 15 minutes off the bench.
Hamilton continued to have a decent season.
On Nov. 12, he recorded a then career-high eight rebounds during a 104-95 loss to the Miami Heat. He also had five 20-point games, including back-to-back ones on Jan. 29 and Feb. 1 (21 points and 22 points, respectively). He even logged in double-figure points in the last 10 games of the season.
Hamilton’s production skyrocketed in the subsequent year.
During the 2000-01 season, he averaged 18 points per contest as he was named the official starting small forward for the Wizards. On Nov. 8, he turned in his first 30-point game as he scored 30 points in a 102-86 loss to the New Jersey Nets. That was just one of his eight 30-point games.
Hamilton even had two 40-point games which came in March. He recorded 40 points on Mar. 14 as the Wizards took a 103-96 victory against the Pistons. On Mar. 29, he scored a then career-high 41 points in a 116-100 victory against the Golden State Warriors.
Things started to change for Hamilton once the 2001-02 season approached
He averaged a career-high 20 points per game but sacrifices had to be made. It was the season when Michael Jordan unretired from a three-year hiatus and decided to join the Wizards. When he came to D.C., Hamilton had to switch back to being a shooting guard after spending the previous year as a small forward. He also had to settle as the team’s second-leading scorer behind Jordan, who averaged 22 points.
Although he played just 63 games due to a groin injury, Hamilton still put together some amazing performances. He recorded seven 30-point games, including back-to-back ones on Feb. 27 and Mar. 1 (31 points and 30 points, respectively).
Once the 2001-02 year concluded, Hamilton was traded to the Pistons where he had an incredible career.
Due to the lack of time he spent with the Wizards, he hasn’t gotten himself in the top franchise rankings, nor does he have his jersey in the rafters. But still, his time with them was outstanding.