Obviously this is Tim Hardaway Jr.’s first season in the NBA, so we’ll analyze his final year in college at Michigan. Hardaway Jr. had the tendency to run hot and cold all through his college career, and those times he went cold seemed to take away from his superstar potential. However, at his best, Hardaway Jr. had the ability to fill it up for Michigan. In his junior year, his final season, he averaged 14.5 points per game on 43.7% FG, 37.4% 3FG, and 4.7 rebounds per game. His junior year ranged from big 20-point games to games where he shot low percentages and struggled to score. It was likely his best all around season, but ended in disappointing fashion when he struggled somewhat throughout the NCAA tournament.
What We Know
Hardaway’s premiere skill, like many players on this New York Knicks team, is scoring. He’s actually a more productive shooter when he creates for himself than when others create for him. According to his draft profile, Hardaway Jr. is actually one of the rare players who shoot a higher percentage from the field off the dribble than he does off the catch. In New York, he’ll be playing a smaller role, and will never be the primary scoring option. However, on broken plays or late in the clock, Hardaway can be a guy to toss the ball to and let create, which will be a useful skill. Outside of offense, he doesn’t do anything at an elite level, but his defense and rebounding are both acceptable, which could be nice bonuses if he concentrates on improving either one.
What We’ll Need
As mentioned, Hardaway Jr.’s role will be limited on the Knicks. However, with J.R. Smith missing the beginning of the season, Hardaway Jr. has a chance to make the rotation early on. If he does, he’ll need to conform his game to his role on the Knicks — that is, becoming a better catch-and-shoot player and learning to move off the ball better. He’ll never really get the chance to dominate the ball, but with a stroke as solid as his, he could be an excellent outside threat for the Knicks’ spread pick-and-roll offense. His ability to create off the dribble, too, will be good if he can evade close-outs and make his way to the basket or full a pull-up dribble. In transition, too, he’s an excellent athlete, and if the Knicks do in fact plan on pushing the pace this season, Hardaway Jr. can be a weapon there.
What We Can Expect
It’s hard to say concretely what the Knicks can get from Hardaway Jr., especially in a crowded back-court, and with Mike Woodson’s aversion to playing rookies. However, if he does earn a spot in the rotation, it will likely be limited, so we’ll likely see Hardaway Jr.’s game in a more confined area. As mentioned, he could potentially be an excellent second or third scoring option on the floor. He can stretch the defense, hit the three-pointer, and create off the dribble, which, in small doses, would be a terrific addition to the Knicks. This also comes with the assumption that Hardaway can accept a smaller, less ball-dominating role. If he does, and he can add in some adequate defense and rebounding, then he figures to be a worthy addition to the rotation, even if his minutes come by sparingly on a healthy roster.
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