Let’s give the Knicks credit for something. Over the past few seasons, the team has done an excellent job of mining some pretty good mid-roster talent, all while having a rough cap situation because of the huge contracts to their “star” players. Often times this is through free agency or the D-League, and it’s even through the draft – something the Knicks often seem voluntarily allergic to. Guys like Landry Fields, Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert, Jeremy Tyler, Toure Murry, and at one time Jeremy Lin all come to mind. Last season the Knicks actually had a first round draft choice, in a draft that prognosticators were quick to call the worst in recent memory. Choosing 24th in any draft, the chances of nabbing a good rotation player aren’t great, and last year it was probably lower. But the Knicks reached for a name, and probably made a very, very good choice in Tim Hardaway, Jr.
Numbers and Stuff
10.2 points per game, 42.8% shooting, 36.3% 3-point shooting, 12.7 PER, 112 offensive rating, 114 defensive rating
Offense, aggressiveness, shooting. Tim isn’t bashful. From the Vegas Summer League, to the preseason, to the regular season, to the Young Stars Game, Hardaway proved that he likes to have the ball in his hands, and he likes to shoot. And for a lot of the season he was really good at it. A but of a rough patch down the stretch of the regular season brought Hardaway’s shooting numbers back down around the league average, but for large swaths of the season he was a fairly reliable perimeter threat. He finished the season a solid 41.5% from the right corner 3, a very sought-after shot in today’s NBA, and was an above-league average 43.2% from straight away 3. Hardaway was also the Knicks’ best player in transition, an aspect the team sorely lacked this season.
Unfortunately for Hardaway, mostly everything else. He was just a rookie, and the 2014 Knicks weren’t exactly a great team to learn the NBA ropes on, particularly on the defense, but there’s a legitimate concern that Hardaway will be a one-dimensional player. There’s a lot of time before we’ll really know, but his poor defense and penchant for holding onto the ball were valid concerns in Year 1. The coaching change and new regime could certainly help Hardaway become a more well-rounded player, perhaps especially if the next man coaching him is Steve Kerr, who voted Hardaway for Rookie of the Year.
Hardaway had a handful of games where he caught fire and put up some gaudy numbers, though a lot of those happened in blowouts (though in fairness, sometimes Hardaway helped create the blowout). In March against Philadelphia, in a game that was closer than it probably should have been, Hardaway hit 9-of-13 overall, including 5-of-7 from deep and got to the line six times, canning five of them to boot, finishing with 28 points in a 123-110 Knicks win.
Let’s go with Tim’s two nightmare games in his hometown of Miami, where his father’s number is retired. In the two games, on Feb. 27 and April 6, Hardaway shot a combined 2-for-22 overall and 0-12 from deep, and was a combined -61 in just about 46 minutes of floor time. Yikes bro.
B? B+? Somewhere around there. Let’s go with a B. That’s pretty good, Tim! I think you can put that up on the ol’ fridge. For a rookie, one picked 24th overall in a weak draft, the Knicks got some very positive, encouraging contributions from Hardaway. Coupled with Iman Shumpert at the guard position, the Knicks have two very talented, athletic players who are a bit one-dimensional, but have the ability to improve with better coaching and a more stable environment. In Hardaway’s case, he has the athletic ability to be, at the very least, a disruptive defender, and he should continue to be a threat in transition with the ability to finish at the rim and a good catch-and-shoot guy. His offensive game can improve by becoming more versatile in half-court situations and a more able and aware passer. After a pleasantly surprising rookie season, it’s a good thing that Hardaway possesses something which seems very rare in Knicksland thee days: room to grow.
Should Tim Hardaway Jr. be a starter next season? Let us know in the comments section below!
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