Atlanta Hawks Player Preview: Tim Hardaway Jr.


Tim Hardaway Jr.

Age: 23

Height: 6’6

Entering his 3rd NBA Season

College: Michigan

Tim Hardaway Jr. #10 2014-2015 Statistics

  • 11.5 points per game
  • 2.2 rebounds per game
  • 1.8 assists per game
  • 38.9 percent field-goal percentage
  • 34.2 percent three-point percentage
  • 80.1 free-throw percentage
  • 24 minutes per game

2014-2015 Season Recap

Tim Hardaway Jr. deserves some sort of medal for surviving the disaster that was the 2014-2015 New York Knicks. What was the catalyst for this disaster? The Titanic hit an iceberg, New York’s iceberg was a season ending injury to Carmelo Anthony. Well, that and just playing consistently terrible basketball. New head coach Derek Fisher was left with an outdated offensive system (the infamous triangle), mediocre players, and a lack of head coaching experience that was glaringly obvious.

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Stir those ingredients together, pop it in the oven, and you have successfully cooked up a 17-65 season. Those Knicks had the 29th ranked offensive rating (99.9) and the 28th ranked defensive rating (110). How does playing in that type of dysfunction make the individual players look? Cue the line from the best television drama of all-time.

I use that video too much, but I’ve made peace with it. Hardaway Jr.’s struggles were a microcosm of the Knicks as a whole. He seemed to struggle in the triangle and trade rumors surrounded him all season. He seemed like such a promising talent during his rookie season. That year he averaged 10.2 points per game on 42.8 percent shooting and 36.3 percent from outside. Due to the injuries last season, Hardaway Jr.’s role increased significantly. He was being asked to take more shots and carry more of the scoring load. It didn’t go well.

Hardaway Jr.’s usage rate increased from 19.6 percent in his rookie year to 23.8 percent last season. He saw his efficiency plummet. His shooting percentage fell 3.9 percent, his three-point shooting percentage dropped 2.1 percent and his player efficiency rating dropped from 12.79 to 12.12. His offensive rating slipped from 112 to 101, and his defensive rating remained an abysmal 114.

His season was the definition of a sophomore slump. It was clear after the season that a change of scenery would benefit both Hardaway Jr. and the Knicks. That’s where the Atlanta Hawks come in.

2015-2016 Season Preview

Started from the bottom, now he’s a Hawk. Drake just made a mixtape with a rapper from Atlanta (Future) so I’m allowed to make that reference while still being true to Atlanta. Also, “Scholarships” is a banger. Moving on. On the night of the 2015 NBA Draft, the Hawks traded their first round pick to the Washington Wizards for the draft rights to Jerian Grant and a pair of second round picks. They then turned around and traded Grant to the New York Knicks for the embattled Tim Hardaway Jr. Just like that his long Knick nightmare was over.

The good news is Hardaway Jr. has plenty of room to improve. He’s also only 23 years old. He is not a lost cause at all. The Hawks drew ire from the internet for the trade that landed them Hardaway Jr. Many prominent NBA writers criticized them for sending away a first round pick for a player coming off an awful season that doesn’t play defense. Even I hated the deal.

But, now some time has passed. The deal may not have great from a value perspective, but he still has the potential to be a useful part of the rotation. What the Hawks want is for the rookie year Hardaway Jr. to return. He’s not going to be in the starting lineup, he’s not going to have a usage rate that is too much for him. All they need him to do is score. That’s it. Score and play defensive that is somewhere between average and atrocious.

DeMarre Carroll was the recipient of many open, three-point shots thanks to Mike Budenholzer’s offense. When the ball is constantly moving that leads to open shots. Hardaway Jr. did not have that luxury in the sludge that the Knicks called their offense. 99 percent of Carroll’s three-point-makes last season were assisted, according to Kirk Goldsberry of Grantland (only 89.3 percent of Hardaway Jr. three-pointers were assisted last season). If Hardaway Jr. can catch and shoot somewhere close to as potently as Carroll did, then he will make a positive impact on the offense.

He won’t have the exact same role as Carroll, Thabo Sefolosha will likely start at small forward, but it’s safe to assume that he will assume at least some of his offensive responsibilities. One thing did jump out at me as a cause for concern. Given the Hawks emphasis on spacing, Hardaway Jr. will find himself frequently spotting up in the corner. 43.8 percent of Carroll’s three-point attempts came in the corner last season, Hardaway Jr. only shot 27.9 percent on corner three-pointers last season and is currently shooting 32.8 percent there for his career. Will that change in Atlanta? They better hope so.

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  • When it comes to Tim Hardaway Jr. it’s pretty simple. If he can spot up and make three-pointers, occasionally get to the rim and score (he’s a career 64.3 percent shooter within 3 feet), and play at least passable defense, then Atlanta will be happy with their decision to trade for him. If he can’t knock down threes, then they might have a problem. He’s not a creator (9.4 percent career assist rate), he’s not a very good rebound (4.5 percent career rebounding rate) and the entire world knows he can’t play defense.

    The Hawks are betting on his talent winning out in the end. Now it’s up to Hardaway Jr. to prove them right.

    Next: Al Horford Player Preview

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