New York Knicks: Reasons to love the Tim Hardaway Jr. signing

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 26: Tim Hardaway Jr. #10 of the Atlanta Hawks looks to pass while being defended by Jae Crowder #99 of the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 26, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 26: Tim Hardaway Jr. #10 of the Atlanta Hawks looks to pass while being defended by Jae Crowder #99 of the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 26, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 09: Tim Hardaway Jr. #10 of the Atlanta Hawks lays in a basket against the Chicago Bulls at Philips Arena on November 9, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 09: Tim Hardaway Jr. #10 of the Atlanta Hawks lays in a basket against the Chicago Bulls at Philips Arena on November 9, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

1. Breaking Out

There’s reason to be wary of a player who had a career-year during a contract-year. That’s the case with Tim Hardaway Jr., who made significant improvements to his game during the final year of his rookie deal.

Based on the fact that Hardaway had to climb his way back up from the D-League to Atlanta’s main roster, however, it’s fair to be optimistic about his work ethic.

Optimism is supported by the fact that Hardaway is already working out with his potential Knicks teammates.

Hardaway not only averaged his most points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game, but set career-highs in every one of those categories on a per-36 basis. He also set career-highs in 3-point field goals made and free throws made.

Hardaway Jr. began to come into his own as a scorer, which includes his straight-line finishing ability and willingness to take and make difficult shots from straight away.

Hardaway is still relatively raw offensively, which is somewhat concerning at 25 years of age. He’s shown enough flashes of brilliance to indicate that high-level talent is in place, however, and it’s now on a coaching staff to help him find his motivation to continue his improvement.

For what it’s worth, in the 45 appearances Hardaway made after Kyle Korver was traded, he averaged 16.8 points on a slash line of .461/.368/.819.

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The New York Knicks took a financial risk, but it could pay off if Tim Hardaway Jr. continues to make such drastic improvements to his game.