When Marvin Coleman was ruled out for the rest of the season due to a leg injury, UNLV was left without a true point guard in the rotation. In Coleman’s absence, David Jenkins and Nick Blake have stepped up to take over point guard duties.
But Bryce Hamilton might be the team’s best option at the point.
For the first time this season Hamilton played as the lead ball handler on Monday night. Rather than start off the ball, Hamilton brought the ball up the floor and initiated the Rebels offensive sets.
With more responsibility, Hamilton posted a career high in both assists (8) and turnovers (7). But his skillset makes him the best bet to stay as the lead ball handler for the Rebels.
Hamilton is the number one option on offense. This will allow him to create open shots for teammates. When Hamilton drives, other take notice.
Against Utah State on Monday, Hamilton drew the attention of three defenders, which opened up Caleb Grill for a three.
This is not a pass that shows off incredible vision, if anything Hamilton is late to recognize Grill. But it highlights the attention Hamilton commands.
No other Rebel is able to consistently draw two or three defenders. Hamilton is not a pure point guard, but his gravity will create open looks for teammates.
Grill benefitted earlier in the game for another open triple.
Grill heads to set a screen for Hamilton, but immediately slips to the corner. As a 36.8 percent shooter, most defense won’t leave Grill alone, but Hamilton commands that kind of attention.
(Also of note on that play is UNLV playing with five players beyond the perimeter despite having Mbacke Diong, a non shooting threat, in the game.)
The numbers back up Hamilton’s ability to create open shots for teammates. His assist rate sits at 30%, fourth highest in the Mountain West.
Hamilton’s assist rate is largely due to the amount of time he has the ball in his hands. He is everything to the UNLV offense, as his usage rate is 10th highest in the country.
But if he can pass at an average level the rest of the season, his teammates should get open looks thank to the attention Hamilton commands.
Without a true point guard, UNLV will likely shuffle through Hamilton, Jenkins and Blake pending each matchup. But when in doubt, the ball should be in Bryce Hamilton’s hands.