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The thing about Tim Hardaway Jr.

There were a lot of expectations for Tim Hardaway Jr. when he returned to the New York Knicks. While not necessarily all positive, eagle-eyed fans saw the potential that he could have on this team. Scoring wise, this has been the best season for the 26-year-old, former Michigan player. Shooting 42.4% from the field, Hardaway Jr. has averaged 17.8 points per game this season. Moreover, since Kristaps Porzingis went down with a torn ACL, Hardaway Jr. has become the team’s top scorer. However, a bevy of high scoring games do not make Hardaway Jr. a star in this league. That, of course, does not mean that he will never be a star. While the verdict isn’t out on how great Tim Hardaway Jr. can be, he will have to work on some things before next season to help push the Knicks into the playoffs.

Let’s get consistent

ESPN’s Josh Hollinger developed an advanced statistic known as the Player Efficiency Rating, or PER. PER weighs a player’s positive accomplishments against his negative ones in order to generate a per minute performance rating. For instance, James Harden holds a score of 30.28 for the season, which makes him the league’s most efficient player according to the report. Tim Hardaway Jr., on the other hand, only holds a score of 14.95. While this is not the sole measure of a player’s value, it speaks to a clear problem with Hardaway Jr.: he is inconsistent.

Tim Hardaway Jr. is the kind of player that will go from scoring 25 points on one night to only dropping nine points on another. At 17.8 points a game, he definitely knows how to put the ball in the basket. However, if the Knicks intend on keeping him as a focal point of their offense, then he is going to have to learn how to take better shots. He shoots 42.4% from the field overall and only 31.8% from the 3-point line. While that would be more forgiving if he was adding more than just scoring, he currently isn’t. Hardaway Jr. only averages 3.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He gives a little more on the defensive side, however, with 1.1 steals per game. Yet, the Knicks need even more from him next season. More so, he has the potential to give more.

Do Better

Hardaway Jr. is at his best when he looks for the three-point shot. Whether it is in transition or making his own shot off the dribble, Hardaway Jr. can be deadly from behind the line. In fact, he shot 54.5% from the three-point line on Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He inevitably had a career high of 39 points during that game.  Of course, this is not a nightly occurrence, as Hardaway Jr. shoots  just under 32% from the behind the arch. Thus, he needs to diversify where he is getting his shot from. Taking a few steps inside to get a cleaner, mid-range shot will certainly open up his offense. Additionally, looking to penetrate more will not only get him some easy looks at the basket, but also allow him to draw fouls so he can go to the free throw line. Shooting a 81.8 free throw percentage, a few more trips to the line would certainly add to Hardaway Jr.’s nightly numbers. Essentially, Hardaway Jr. has the skills to be a pure scorer; he just needs to give himself the chance to be one. The Knicks are exactly the team that will allow Hardaway Jr. to meet his potential.

Looking Forward

Aside from how the season is primed to end for New York, this team has the ability to win. At their best, the Knicks sat fifth in the Eastern conference. Of course, the team is still a few pieces shy of being a solid championship contender. However, giving full faith and credit to Tim Hardaway Jr., there is no reason to think he can’t further develop as a pure scorer. If he puts in the work this summer and hones the skills he already has, then next season he can be instrumental in a playoff push for the New York Knicks.

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Andre is the New York Knicks Lead Writer for
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