Prospect watch: Tim Hardaway Jr.

Tim Hardaway Jr.
Tim Hardaway Jr. (AP)

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Tim Hardaway Jr.
Tim Hardaway Jr. (AP)

School: University of Michigan
Class: Junior
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 199
Wingspan: 6’7″
Per-game stats: 34.9 MIN, 14.2 PTS, 2.4 AST, 0.7 STL, 4.5 REB, 1.9 TOV, .429 FG%, .358 3PT%, .695 FT%

Why should the Nets draft Tim Hardaway Jr.? If the Nets don’t feel comfortable with MarShon Brooks as their backup shooting guard. Brooks had a lost season in 2012-2013, playing just 12.5 minutes per game in an ever-changing rotation. His defense spotty and his three-point shooting lacking (27.3% 3PT last season), Brooks may not be what general manager Billy King is looking for in Joe Johnson’s primary backup.

Hardaway Jr. could give the Nets a nice scoring punch off the bench, and provide the two things that King has said he will look for this offseason: shooting and athleticism. Though 42.9% FG and 35.8% 3PT don’t seem like stellar shooting numbers, his 53% true-shooting percentage would’ve ranked 4th among Nets guards last season. His athleticism is also a strength when considering that the Nets will implement a more up-tempo style under new head coach Jason Kidd.

Defensively, Hardaway Jr. has all the tools to defend the 2-guard position in the NBA: the size, the athleticism, and the quickness. Though he was a good-not-great defender in college, many believe that Hardaway Jr. can become a solid NBA defender. His 6’7″ wingspan ranks on the small side among guards, but his ultra-competetive attitude should give him an edge in the pros.

Why shouldn’t the Nets draft Tim Hardaway Jr.? Shot selection. I remember watching Michigan throughout last season and thinking that Hardaway Jr. just put up shots to get his name on the stat sheet. His shooting mechanics are very sound but when he takes poor shot after poor shot, he can single-handedly run his team and shooting percentage into the ground. Case in point: Hardaway Jr. shot just 37.7% FG in six NCAA tournament games, only for Michigan to get bailed out by likely lottery pick Trey Burke.

There are also questions about his focus on defense, as he didn’t always seem interested stopping his man on every possession in college. There’s no question that the talent is there, but it needs to be on a consistent basis.

Have the Nets worked Tim Hardaway Jr. out? They have not worked out Hardaway Jr. yet.

Will Tim Hardaway Jr. be available at pick #22? Likely. Hardaway Jr. is projected as a late first-rounder, and while some mocks have him going before the Nets pick at 22, there’s a good chance he’ll be available.

If necessary, should the Nets move up to acquire Tim Hardaway Jr.? No. As I stated in my analysis of Shane Larkin, the Nets should not be moving up for any prospects outside of the lottery in this draft. This draft is seen as one of the weaker drafts in recent memory and after the lottery picks go by, there just isn’t much certainty. Though Hardaway Jr. could help the Nets in a multiple ways, he isn’t worth giving up assets for, especially when there are similar players who will likely be available at pick 22 such as Allen Crabbe.

Final Verdict:

Though it obviously depends on who’s available, if Tim Hardaway Jr. does indeed fall to pick number 22, I believe the Nets should take him. Hardaway Jr.’s shooting ability and athleticism are just what Brooklyn lacked off the bench last season and are the top two qualities Billy King will look to acquire this summer. With Joe Johnson on the wrong side of 30, the Nets will need a backup who can alleviate his minutes (Johnson averaged a team-high 36.7 minutes per game) during the regular season. and space the floor effectively with the starters. Tim Hardaway Jr. may just be that guy.