Tim Hardaway Jr. came to Michigan with medium expectations despite the fact that he is 6 inches taller and more athletic than his famous dad, Tim Hardaway Sr. (aka “Killer Crossover”) and surprised many folks.
At 6’6, Hardaway Jr. presents nice size for a shooting guard with above average athleticism. Laterally, Tim is above average and moves his feet well. He has great frontline speed, a solid wing-span, and has great bounce in his jump. This translates to a strong first step and allows him to find his spots easily.
He glides across the court and has a great bounce once he gets to his second dribble. He can cover a lot of ground on the court quickly and effortlessly.
Hardaway Jr. possesses a nice height for the shooting guard position at slightly over 6’6. While possessing an okay wing-span, Hardaway is somewhat lean at his height at only 200 lbs. While only 200 lbs. Hardaway Jr. is wiry-strong as at times he played power forward throughout the years at the college level. That said, fighting through screens will probably be an issue at times.
There have been no reported off-court issues for Hardaway Jr. at all. Understandably, he seems to possess a professional understanding already.
Basketball IQ and Will to Want It
Hardaway Jr. possesses great skill level since coming into his freshman year. You can tell his dad, Tim Sr. played in the NBA. He started his freshman year as a streak shooter that also scored on backdoor cuts. The struggle with Tim is when his shot is not falling. In the past, if shot is not falling, he would disappear in games and struggled to use other methods to get his team involved.
This year, while being more of Trey Burke’s team, Hardaway Jr. has shown tremendous improvement in terms of getting into the lane more consistently and developing more of a mid-range game than in past. While experience has some to do with this, added muscle seems to have help contributed to this also.
Skill-level wise Hardaway Jr. does many things well. Offensively Hardaway Jr. came to Michigan as a player that was very streaky, but would get many of his points off of backdoor cuts and a very streaky jumper from deep or mid-range. His sophomore year was his worst year of his collegiate career, but did show a little more versatility in terms of putting the ball on the floor more and pulling up to the mid-range.
While he did not add any scoring to his play this year, he was much more consistent in all elements of his game and played on one of the most talented teams of this year alongside college player of the year in Trey Burke.
Hardaway Jr. possesses a very streaky jumper, but when he is on, he can score in bunches. He improved the consistency of his shot this year relative to his previous seasons. While not an outstanding ball-handler, Hardaway Jr is solid at his position and possesses a good first step. When not getting by on his first-step, he has a solid crossover dribble for his size.
While he is not likely to use it often to get into the lane and score at the rim, he does possess a nice enough dribble to create a little bit for others and himself and has shown continued progress throughout his career. He also runs around screens to get an open three-point shot or find a mid-range jumper. Top this with his ability to hit big shots, and Hardaway Jr. possesses a solid overall repertoire offensively.
Defensively, Hardaway Jr. is solid. While he will likely be exposed sometimes with his lean build, his lateral quickness, size, and smarts will help him. He also rebounds well for his position at 4.7 per game.
Overall, Hardaway Jr. is an intriguing prospect at pick 20 or later first round though there are questions about what stands out about him. Is he good enough at any one aspect of the game and consistent enough to carve out a role at the next level?
My thing about Hardaway Jr. is that he scored 14 points a game on a very talented team, blended in well, has a good understanding of the game, dad has played pro ball, is an above average athlete with solid size at his position, plays hard, works hard in the offseason, crafty, and is the consummate professional.
I just feel he does not have glaring weaknesses such as youth/immaturity of a Ricky Ledo, being a jump shooter only such as Caldwell-Pope, or limited athletic ability such as Sergey Karasev.
How does he fit with the Bulls?
To me, Hardaway Jr. is my favorite player that might be available for the Bulls to pick at pick 20 outside of Gorgui Dieng. Hardaway Jr. seems to present many nice tools for being a nice shooting guard at the next level. I think he would play a few minutes right away for Coach Thibs. While Hardaway Jr. does not create off the dribble like a Ricky Ledo, he can do it in spurts.
While he is not a pure shooter such as a Karasev, he is a solid shooter on high volume. He does many things above average and has room for improvement and is a good athlete. While many observers might see his stats and ask where is the improvement, sometimes to me it is what you might see in game tape and see in personal interviews.
I think Hardaway Jr. with the right team might be one of the top 10 players to come out of this draft.
My impressions are that Hardaway Jr. is going to be a steal if taken in late first-round. He might not be as good of a shooter as a player such as McLemore or Bullock, as much of a creator such as Ledo, as hard-nose of a defender or freak athlete as Oladipo, but Hardaway Jr. does many things solidly on top of being a clutch shooter. To me combined with his knowledge of the game from his own learning and from his dad and being the ultimate team player, he could be a very good player for a team such as the Spurs or Bulls!