2013 NBA Draft Profiles: Tim Hardaway Jr.

Today’s featured profile will be on Michigan shooting guard, Tim Hardaway Jr. Yes, THAT Hardaway. The son of the UTEP alum, who gave the Knicks fits in the 90′s, as a member of the Miami Heat, with his scoring ability and signature crossover, has declared for the draft after a strong Junior year. One of my top 5 players at the shooting guard position in this year’s draft, Hardaway has matured from a wiry spot-up shooter at Miami Palmetto Senior High School into one of the most polished and NBA-ready prospects available.

Birthday: 3/16/92 – Projected NBA Position: Shooting Guard – Class: Junior – Ht: 6-6 – Wt: 200 – Hometown: Miami, FL

2012-13 Per Game Averages: 14.5 Points – 2.4 Assists – 4.7 Rebounds – 43.7 FG% – 37.4 3P% – 69.4 FT%

Tim Hardaway Jr.'s Pre-Draft Combine Results

Hardaway Jr.’s Pre-Draft Combine Results

Strengths

- Natural shooter with sound form and mechanics

- Some skill as a pick and roll ballhandler

- Developed an excellent pull-up jumper

- Willing passer with above-average court vision

- Decent finisher on the break

- Adept at working without the ball through screens, cuts, etc.

- Strong intangibles/Known for his work ethic at Michigan

Weaknesses

- Lacks an explosive first step to beat defenders off the dribble

- Can stand to add some weight to his frame and get stronger

- Must improve at the free throw line

- Solid defender but lateral quickness is suspect

- Shot abandoned him on biggest stage of collegiate career

After helping lead the Wolverines to the NCAA Tournament as a freshman, many expected Hardaway to step right into the space left by Darius Morris and become “the guy” in his Sophomore campaign, but it didn’t exactly work out that way. Some analysts well tell you that Hardaway’s shot simply regressed, as he hit 41.8 % of his attempts from the field and 28.3% of his attempts from deep as opposed to 42.0% from the field and 36.7% from deep in his freshman season. But I believe that the root of Hardaway’s sophomore slump was the emergence of top 10 pick and former backcourt mate, Trey Burke.

The adjustment period for Hardaway was a rough one, as he struggled to get comfortable and establish his role alongside his new star teammate. It was during this time that I also noticed one of my biggest concerns with Hardaway: he gets in his own head at times. There would be situations where he would miss two or three shots in a row and you could see the frustration building, leading to him sometimes forcing the issue. It got to the point where he had to meet with Michigan’s Director of Athletic Counseling to get his head straight.

However, as time passed, Hardaway finally became comfortable in his role, proven by his bounce back Junior year. Although his points per game remained relatively the same, he set career highs in efficiency, rebounding and assists. Hardaway was asked to do more than just score and he took on the challenge like a true pro, earning the title of team captain midway through the season and displaying the leadership and NBA pedigree no doubt instilled in him by his father.

In a funny way, New York is in one of the better spots in this year’s draft. The 2013 class doesn’t have the flair or dazzle that most hoped for, with few sure bets, and in my opinion, no true #1 pick. Depth becomes this year’s focus, and one of New York’s biggest weaknesses this season was their lack of two-way players. At the least, Hardaway provides a financially strapped Knick franchise a young wing on the cheap who can be a solid rotation player with his ability to knock down the 3-ball and bring energy on defense. If Hardway can add to his frame, and expand his offensive arsenal, at his ceiling he can be a starting guard in this league.

New York’s window with this core is closing, and they need a pick that will be able to contribute right away. With Chris Copeland’s status up in the air, and the fanbase divided on whether or not they want the reigning Sixth Man of The Year in JR Smith to return with a long-term deal, Hardaway would be a worthy selection.

Follow Brandon on Twitter @Ayo_Rush