Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry has kept much of the team’s pre-draft activities a secret. Finding information on players the Hawks are targeting has been nearly impossible. The team will not even announce which prospects have traveled to Philips Arena to workout prior to June 27th’s draft even though most other NBA teams make such information public knowledge.
Could this be because the Hawks plan on picking a player that has seen his draft stock rise? A player from a major university that nearly won the 2013 NCAA championship? A player that has an NBA pedigree? That player is coming to the association from the University of Michigan and is the son of a former NBA great: Tim Hardaway Jr.
Hardaway Jr. is a 6’6″ shooting guard that weighs 199 lbs and has a 6’7” wingspan. He played three seasons at Michigan and was a starter for nearly his entire career. Check out his collegiate numbers:
- 2010-2011: 13.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.7 apg, 30.7 mpg, 42.0 FG%, 36.7 3FG%
- 2011-2012: 14.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.1 apg, 34.2 mpg, 41.8 FG%, 28.3 3FG%.
- 2012-2013: 14.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.4 apg, 34.8 mpg, 43.7 FG%, 37.4 3FG%.
Hardaway Jr., minus a low percentage from behind the 3-point line his sophomore season, is a steady, consistent player. He was an integral part of a talented Michigan team that reached this season’s NCAA Championship game. His numbers for the Tournament are nearly identical to his career production, showing that he is able to play his same game even when the pressure is at its highest.
- 2013 NCAA Tournament: 13.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.5 apg, 37.2 mpg, 37.7 FG%, 38.2 3FG%.
Hardaway Jr., especially this season, developed a knack for hitting pressure packed shots. In a February game at Wisconsin (one the Wolverines eventually lost in OT), Tim hit a 3-point shot with just seconds remaining in regulation, momentarily giving Michigan the lead. In Michigan’s Sweet 16 matchup with Kansas, he made a beautiful 15-foot jumper from the corner that helped ignite a huge Michigan comeback win. Tim also had a driving dunk over Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng in the national title game that helped Michigan keep the game close when the Cardinals were starting to pull away late.
When the Wolverines needed Tim this season, he could be counted on to come through.
Tim’s game has been getting strong reviews from NBA talent evaluators. NBA scout Tony Barone compares Tim to former six-time Hawks All-Star Joe Johnson. Barone says Tim is similar to Joe in three ways: shooting form, style of passing and hitting jumpers off 3-dribbles.
Watch this workout video of Hardaway Jr. shooting and handling the ball. You will be able to see where Barone is coming from.
There is one glaring difference between Tim’s game and Joe’s (right now, at least). Joe Johnson is one of the better isolation players in the NBA. While a member of the Hawks, and now with the Brooklyn Nets, he was often called upon to get the ball at the top of the key and find a way to create his own shot. Tim really struggles in this area, as you will see when we go over Tim’s scouting video later.
Nevertheless, having your game compared to Joe Johnson’s by a 13-year NBA scout like Tony Barone is high praise.
Hardaway Jr.’s performance in May’s NBA Draft Combine made an impression on ESPN’s Chad Ford. Ford said of the Michigan man: “he’s one of the more NBA-ready players in the draft…”.Ford also commended Tim’s showing in the combine’s athletic testing and live 3-on-3 session. Again, another example of Tim’s ability to shine under pressure.
The Tim Hardaway Jr. scouting video:
- 3:22 — Gets a rebound and goes coast-to-coast for a dunk against IUPUI.
- 3:39 — I mentioned this play from the National Title Game earlier. Tim makes a sweet drive and dunk against the Cardinals. This cut Louisville’s lead to two points and was a crucial play, at the time.
- 5:20 — Nice catch-and-shoot three against Minnesota. Catching the ball, squaring up, and quickly releasing is a strong part of Tim’s game.
- 5:29 — Again, catch-and-shoot…this time for a deep 3-pointer against VCU.
- 5:45 — Hits the corner 3 (an important shot in the NBA today) against Indiana.
- 6:24 — Tim flashes out to the 3-point line, receives the ball, squares, and shoots.
- 7:11 — Another play mentioned earlier…against Kansas, Tim elevates over a defender and hits a 15-footer from the corner.
- 7:54 — The 3-point shot that momentarily gave Michigan a late lead at Wisconsin.
- 9:35 — Settles for a jumper against Purdue.
- 9:46 — This is a glaring example of Tim’s propensity to settle for a jump shot when he has a clear path to the hoop. Here, he gets free from a double team, has a path to the hoop, and settles for a jumper.
- 10:32 — Takes a bad shot. With 21-seconds still on the shot clock, Tim forces (and misses) a 3-pointer, against Ohio State.
- 11:21 — Makes a weak drive against Michigan State and the Spartans make Tim pay the price.
- 12:59 — Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, a likely Lottery pick in this year’s draft, blows right past Tim.
- 13:11 — Tim gets abused by Oladipo.
- 14:27 — The worst part of the video…Tim is playing defense near the block and makes a weak, half-hearted attempt to knock down the entry pass to the post. Then, he stands and watches as the ball gets kicked out to a shooter in the corner.
There is a lot to like about Tim Hardaway Jr’s game. He is a good shooter, who is able to get his shot off quickly. He has proven to be a clutch player, hitting shots when his teammates need him the most and performing well when NBA scouts and GM’s are watching. He does come with some questions, though. He struggles in isolation, often settling for jumpers and not attacking the rim. He does force a lot of shots, as shown in the video. And, he has a tendency to stand and watch while playing defense. These are areas he must improve upon in order to last in the NBA.
If the Hawks do indeed draft Hardaway Jr., the team will likely need to be patient and allow his game time to improve. Judging by his fathers illustrious career, Tim Hardaway Jr. may be worth the effort.