Tim Hardaway was subject to harsh criticism from the fan base after inking a 4 year, 72 million dollar contract in the first major signing of the new front office. But, Hardaway has shown to be able to perform at a level up to that contract albeit a few injuries and inconsistency throughout the year. When Porzingis returns next season, we should get a good look at what Tim can bring to the table, while not being the focal point of our offense.
Hardaway showed this season that he can score with the best of them when he finds his shots in rhythm. He set a new career high in scoring at 17.5PPG as well as career highs in assists and rebounds during his first season in New York. He showed to be a different player from his previous Knicks stints and attacked the rim hard and finished around the rim tremendously well. Hardaway showed a knack for finding the open man, as well as being able to create his own shots off the dribble. He also shot 46% on mid-range jumpers, which is a number more efficient than the likes of DeMar DeRozan and James Harden. When Hardaway gets hot, his scoring approaches elite levels and it seems like there are no shots he could possibly miss. Games like when the Raptors visited the Garden in November show exactly how lethal he can be when he scores in rhythm and sets his feet before he fires.
Hardaway has always been a streaky player during his short NBA career. It seems as if he is always either on or off going into any given night. This is noted by the fact that he struggled to find his range from deep during this season, only shooting 31.7% from beyond the arc. He also sometimes zones out defensively and allows his match-up easy looks at the rim with little to no resistance. Hardaway has a propensity to ball watch and not watch his man. This is evident on switches where he gets caught in no-mans land and is late rotating to his man, often resulting in open threes. However, when he puts effort in defensively he shows that he can be a solid on-ball defender and keep his man in check. The issue is that he often is not focused on the defensive side of the ball and focuses most of his energy to the offensive end. When Porzingis returns from his torn ACL, he should allow Hardaway to reallocate some of his energy away from the offensive end as he would no longer be the focal point of the opposition. But, defense needs to be his priority to take his game to the next level.
Maybe this season was an anomaly, but Hardaway dealt with a few injuries over the course of the year which were concerning to say the least. He missed 20 games this season with a stress fracture in his leg, and even when he returned he looked like a shell of the player who lit up the Toronto Raptors. For a few weeks after the injury he seemed slow, and flat on all of his shots. However, the injury itself wouldn’t have been awful had he not recently inked a huge contract with the Knicks. It leaves you wondering about his health and how his body will respond to being the second option in New York. If the leg injury proves to be nagging over the course of his contract, there could be major concerns with his fit on the team for the future because for the amount of he is signed for, you need production.
For all the Good and Bad of signing Hardaway this past off-season, there were flashes of why we paid so much for Hardaway. He’s proved that he can be an instant spark for this team, and when he finds his rhythm, he truly is a lights out scorer. But in order to take his game, and the team to the next level. He needs to focus on his shot selection and defensive intensity in order to truly become an all-around player. The talent is certainly there. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.