Going into the 2013 NBA Draft the New York Knicks will be looking to improve anywhere they can. They'll keep a special eye on the point guards and big men available but when the 24th pick comes around they won't hesitate to take the best player available. Even though they project Iman Shumpert as a future star and the Knicks are expecting to bring J.R. Smith back they could always bring in a shooting guard if he's the highest ranked player on their board. After all, Carmelo Anthony wants New York to bring in an additional scorer right? Could the Knicks bring in Michigan shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr.?
Everyone knows Tim Hardaway. He killed the New York Knicks for years. He was the type of point guard every Knicks fan wished New York could find. Quite frankly, they never have in the modern era. However, the Knicks have had some very skilled shooters. Going into this off-season Carmelo Anthony has asked the Knicks front office to find him a secondary scorer to take some of the load off his shoulders. Could Tim Hardaway Jr. be the player the Knicks draft at number 24 to help supplement the offense?
Hardaway Jr. is a 6'6", 199 pound shooting guard with a 6'7" wingspan from Miami, Florida who played for Michigan. He's an athletic scorer in the purest form who showcased his explosiveness with highlight reel dunk on Gorgui Dieng during this years national title game. He can score in multiple ways including slashing to the rim and pulling up from all over the floor. He's improved his three-point shooting and competes equally as hard. He's an energy guy who plays with intensity and strives to get the most out of his abilities. He thrives in transition and has above average leaping ability on the run which helps him finishes well on fastbreaks.
He plays within a team concept and is unselfish. Despite being a shooting guard he makes good decisions with the ball and is a good passer, showing good ability as the ball handler in pick and roll situations. He has a professional jump shot with great form and a high release point. He moves well without the ball and shooting off of screens.
However, he's not overly fast and doesn't have the explosive first step needed to drive by defenders in isolation situations. As such, there are questions about his which limits his ability to create his own shot. He needs to put on some muscle because he's too easily knocked off balance while driving to the rim or attempting to free himself up for scoring opportunities. Additionally, his shot selection can be questionable. Besides that, his lack of lateral speed keeps him from being anything more than a solid defender.
His father’s native city is paying off for Hardaway Jr. as many experts, who originally had him pegged in the middle of the second round, are changing their approach.
ESPN’s on-set experts raved about Hardaway on Friday, especially analyst Chad Ford on Twitter citing Hardaway as the combine’s best three-point shooter Thursday. He hit 19 of 25 threes in a drill. Hardaway showed off his athleticism, placing in the top 20 of six tests (two vertical leaps, two agility drills, the three-quarter court sprint and the spot-up shooting, where he was the sixth best).
One thing he has over other prospects is the benefits of being an NBA legacy. As the son of a former pro, he's grown up around the game and as a result has developed a maturity and knowledge of the professional game that should help with the transition to the next level.
Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports Hardaway Jr. wants to have a lengthy career like his father and hopes to stick with one team as long as possible.
Watching his father over the years has helped him develop an understanding of what he wants from an NBA career.
“I envision just having a long-term career, just like my father did,” Hardaway Jr. said. “Not bouncing around that much, not being a focal point but being a piece of a great team that wins a lot and wants to win. A guy who comes in, fills in and does whatever he can to help his team win.”
Hardaway Jr. is considered a borderline first rounder and could either slot in as a potential pick for the Knicks at 24 or as a bargain second round selection. However, his last name alone could very well elevate his selection range.