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- Measurables: 6-foot-6, 199 pounds, junior guard from the University of Michigan.
- Key Stats: 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists; shot 44 percent from the field and 37 percent from 3-point range.
- Projected: Late first round.
- Hickory High similarity score
Along with Trey Burke, Hardaway Jr. may very well be the most well-known of the current crop of NBA Draft prospects. However, he’s actually only the second most well-known Tim Hardaway in his family.
I know, I know, you’re aware of who his father is, but my favorite Tim Hardaway thing — junior or senior — is the phenomena behind Hardaway Sr.’s hat during Michigan NCAA Title Game run this March. If you didn’t know, Tim Hardaway’s Hat was kind of a big deal.
Fits with the Pistons because …
Hardaway would help shore up two of the Pistons’ biggest weaknesses — 3-point shooting and off-guard play. The Pistons haven’t been balanced in the past four seasons. Whether it was the early rebuilding years when there were 10,000 wing players and no post players, or currently, when the two of the better wing options are Khris Middleton and Kim English, both unproven former second rounders.
Hardaway is a prototypical NBA shooting guard. He has good size, athleticism and a sense of where to be on the court. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to utilize his athleticism enough, partially because he seems much more content as a jump shooter than a slashing guard.
So many times, Hardaway was a catalyst for some big Michigan scoring runs for Michigan, in part, because once his jumper started falling, his entire game opened up. He would then drive to the basket and move without the ball, showing how well-rounded he can be.
Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …
He’s an NBA-ready jump shooter with the size to play, but despite his great scoring binges, that’s not the whole story.
Hardaway’s doesn’t shine every night. When his game is on, it’s really on. But when he’s off, he’s really off, almost to the point of being invisible on the court.
In the short term, is Hardaway a definite upgrade from Middleton? They’ve both got a nice stroke and both have dealt with bouts of inconsistency. I’m not sure Hardaway would make sense with the Pistons’ first second-round pick considering they just drafted a pair of similar shooters in that range last season.
Overall, Hardaway has the tools to be a good player in the league. Maybe his ceiling is a more-diversified offensive version of Danny Green? Maybe Arron Afflalo? Both are very possible if he puts in the work improving his 1-on-1 defense and really gets proficient from the NBA 3-point arc.
That’s 100 percent a possibility, but until he finds that consistency and adjusts to not having college basketball’s best point guard delivering him the ball exactly where he likes it, he’s going to have some work to do.
All said, he may be too much value to pass on at No. 37 – but more likely than not, he’ll already be off the board.
From the Experts
The Nuggets are in danger of losing Andre Iguodala this summer after he opted to become a free agent. While Hardaway is a far cry from Iguodala, he’s one of the more NBA-ready players in the draft and could step in immediately and along with Evan Fournier, help with some of the minutes used by Iggy.
Tim Hardaway Jr will have plenty of opportunities to climb draft boards in workouts considering how up in the air the hierarchy at the shooting guard position is after Ben McLemore and Victor Oladipo. Already impressing teams with his performance at the NBA Combine in Chicago, Hardaway could certainly be the player to stake claim to that position in the coming weeks in workouts. There’s little question that he is an NBA talent. The question for Hardaway moving forward is whether he can become the efficient contributor he’s capable of on a consistent basis.
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