What Bryce Hamilton’s transfer means for UNLV

It sounds like the Kevin Kruger era will not involve Bryce Hamilton. The Rebels leading scorer over the past two seasons declared for the NBA draft last week. But now he has entered his name into the transfer portal.

According to Jeff Goodman, Hamilton will in fact transfer.

The first takeaway is Hamilton’s NBA potential seems to be low. If he presumably already got some feedback from the league, it appears to not be good feedback, as Hamilton is heading back to college.

Now UNLV is missing out on a proven scorer. Hamilton averaged at least 16 points in each of the last two seasons. Mbacke Diong (if he elects to take an extra year of eligibility) would be UNLV’s returning leading scorer at 8.9 points.

So if Hamilton does leave, Kruger will have to find offense somewhere. The four transfers he has already brought in have not scored at a high level in college. Jordan McCabe put up 5.8 points per game as a freshman at West Virginia. No other incoming transfer has averaged 5 points.

Hamilton was not efficient last season. He ranked 89th in offensive rating among among high usage players, according to Ken Pom. Hamilton’s three point shooting was always an issue, but without a point guard (or any other offensive playmaker) Hamilton’s efficiency cratered.

But that was out of necessity. UNLV needed Hamilton to take on a large role in the offense because no one else could.

And as of now, UNLV’s roster is lacking a playmaker. Nick Blake showed some promise as a freshman. He led UNLV guards with 37.3 percent of his shots coming at the rim. But there was very little consistency in Blake’s production.

If he can play at his highest level, UNLV will have a true playmaker. But that is a level of consistency that most players are unable to find.

Jordan McCabe might be the second best bet to create offense. In three seasons at West Virginia he averaged over five assists per 40 minutes. The problem is McCabe never took more than 16 percent of his shots in close.

Maybe a step down in competition to the Mountain West will help McCabe’s ability to get to the rim. But like Blake, until we see it happen, it is not wise to count on it.

Kruger needs to add an offensive playmaker this offseason. The current roster is devoid of shooters or scorers. While it looks like UNLV’s defense will be much improved, the offense is a massive question mark.

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