Knicks fans rarely seem to be satisfied with any draft pick the team makes these days. Whether top-five or late in the first-round, there always seems to be a hoard of boos that can be heard throughout the arena on draft night.
In 2013, New York evidently got things right with their one and only draft pick at 24th overall. They selected Tim Hardaway Jr., an athletic two-guard with a hot-and-cold game who rose to prominence after helping get the Michigan Wolverines to the national championship game the prior April.
He outplayed a number of those taken ahead of him off the bat, averaging 10.2 points in just 23.1 minutes of action, while shooting 36.3 percent from downtown. Consistency was — and continues to be — the issue for Hardaway. He’d have stretches of scoring 15+ only to follow it up with a number of single-digit outings in the scoring column.
That didn’t matter at first. What mattered was a surprising level of productivity from THJ, enough to earn him a spot on the 2013-14 All-Rookie First Team. It was in the year after where fans would grow antsy, as Hardaway minimally improved his scoring average, while witnessing a drop towards his all-around efficiency.
New York would then trade Hardaway on draft night 2015 to the Atlanta Hawks, only to bring him back on a four-year, $71 million contract in the Summer 2017. His second run with the team would end quicker than the first when the Knicks shipped him off once again at this past deadline to the Dallas Mavericks in order to free up the cap space his mammoth deal was occupying.
Hardaway still has plenty of room to grow at both ends of the floor, and it was his dormant potential that led to two separate trades in less than five years. Still, for as much animosity as Knick fans have towards just about every draft pick these days, to see one celebrated on draft night and then produce if only for a season was a welcomed sight.