Jun 27 2013
I don’t love this pick. I don’t love this pick because a) I don’t like the player and b) there were players I liked who were still on the board. The Knicks should’ve taken Reggie Bullock from North Carolina, who went 25th to the Clippers, but I digress.
When the pick was announced, my first thought was “WHAT THE F***!?!”. My second thought was that this is probably insurance in the event that JR Smith walks in free agency. Alan Hahn shared this thought as well:
Hardaway Jr. is in no way as good or better than JR Smith, so it’s not like the Knicks can just let Smith go. Hardaway is athletic and does have some ability, but he’s incredibly inconsistent and doesn’t have the ball handling ability that Smith has. He’s far from a finished product at this point.
He has a reputation as a great three point shooter, though he hit just 34.3% of his threes at Michigan over three seasons. He hit 36.7% his freshman year, fell off a cliff to 28.3% his sophomore year, and finished his junior year at 37.4%. Defensively he has potential, but isn’t great by any means and doesn’t really have the athletic ability or length to become a great defender. At best, I think he’ll be a league average defender. His biggest issue seems to be an inconsistency that plagued him throughout his career. This is what DraftExpress wrote about Hardaway’s inconsistency:
Finishing as the Wolverines’ second leading scorer, Hardaway indeed played a key role for a Michigan team that made it all the way to the National Championship game. Knocking down 37% of his shots from beyond the arc, Hardaway bounced back from the 28% he shot as a sophomore, but his two-point percentage dipped from 54% to 48%, something that has become a trend for the Florida native over the last three seasons. At different points in Hardaway’s career he’s been both a highly effective and below average finisher, midrange shooter, and spot-up threat, never really stringing together consistency in any one area for a prolonged period.
All this sound familiar? Hardaway is a poor man’s JR Smith. Exactly what the Knicks needed!
There is a silver lining to be taken away from this. The fact that the Knicks drafted a 2/3 and not a 4 suggests that they’re sticking with Carmelo Anthony at power forward. That was probably the biggest key to the off-season. As long as Anthony plays the 4, the Knicks will have a chance to be pretty good. If they fool around with moving him back to the 3, we have problems.
How does Hardaway Jr. fit into what the Knicks want to do? I actually think he has a good skill set for the system. He can’t really put the ball on the floor and create, but he should be able to adequately space the floor. He has good range on his shot and can shoot. Again, the problem is consistency. He’s a good finisher at the rim, not great or overly creative. Because he doesn’t have great ball handling skills, he’s somewhat limited in what he can do after he’s been closed out on. Hardaway has a reputation as taking a few questionable shots, particularly in the pull up game. DraftExpress had his points per possession on pull-up jumpers at 0.683, 1.012, and 0.684 throughout his three seasons – again, very inconsistent. His free throw shooting got worse all three years in school, going from 76.5% to 71.5% to 69.4% his junior year. His rebounding, block and assist numbers saw slight rises throughout his career, a good sign, but he’s hardly expected to be an impact guy in any of those categories.
Again, I’m not a fan of this pick. I think Reggie Bullock would’ve been perfect for what the Knicks need – a two way 2/3 who can shoot lights out and defend at a high level. Hardaway Jr has the ability to develop into a more dynamic offensive player than Bullock, but he has a lot of work to do. He’s got to get more consistent and he’s got to improve on shot creation. Bullock will end up a much better defender. Hardaway Jr is a poor man’s JR Smith, and that’s not satisfactory for me. I don’t like this pick at all.
Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino