Scouting Tim Hardaway Jr.
As we approach the 2013 NBA Draft, we are reaching out to local experts to help us scout some of the players the Hawks may take in the first round. We had Zach Travis from Maize n Brew help us scout Michigan guard Tim Hardaway Jr. You can also follow Travis on Twitter at @zach_travis or Maize n Brew at @MaizenBrew.
What are his strengths? Weaknesses?
Tim Hardaway Jr. is a scorer, pure and simple. At the end of the day, that is the kind of player that any team that drafts him will get. He is a long, athletic shooting guard that can get to the rim, hit a wide array of jump shots, and shoot the lights out from the outside. His greatest strength is the ceiling for his offensive abilities. When he gets into a groove he can bury a team and carry an offense for stretches. He is capable in transition and the half-court.
Of course, his weakness is that this offensive firepower he possesses isn’t always turned on. Hardaway Jr. throughout his time at Michigan was prone to cold streaks and quiet games. He had a tendency to rely too heavily on his jump shot, trying to force things from the outside and beat defenders off the dribble to create long shooting opportunities. This often didn’t work out and would lead to 1-6 and 2-7 three point shooting performances.
If Hardaway Jr. is assertive and consciously attacks the basket trying to establish himself as a threat to get to the basket and draw fouls, it will open up the rest of his game and allow him to flourish offensively. If he plays on his heels and settles for contested threes, it will be a long game and he will most likely spend most of it glued to the bench.
What did he add to his team in college? What do you think he’ll bring to an NBA team?
Hardaway Jr. was the second scoring option for Michigan’s offense, and he complimented Trey Burke well. Burke was such a polished scorer that it created a lot of matchup and rotation problems for opposing defenses, and Hardaway Jr. was the primary benefactor of this. Burke would get teams out of position and set Hardaway Jr. up for open shots. Also at times Michigan would put the ball in Hardaway Jr.’s hands and play Burke off the ball on the backside of screen plays. Finally, Hardaway Jr. was a great finisher in transition, which is where Michigan thrived for long parts of the year thanks to Burke’s ability to push the pace.
In the NBA I see Hardaway Jr. as more of a spark plug scorer off the bench. His specialty is scoring in bunches, and I feel that if he can find a good position where he is the seventh or eighth man in the rotation, he could make a good living as the guy who gets a handful of touches while the primary offensive weapons take a break. If he can prove himself adept at this, and show the kind of consistency that he lacked in college, I could eventually see him sliding into a starting role on a team that has a good offensive point guard that Hardaway Jr. can play off of.
What kind of style is he best suited for?
It is tough to say exactly. Michigan’s offense was an interesting mix of some of the concepts that John Beilein had been using for years, as well as a shift toward a lot of pick-and-roll offense and attacking in transition to take advantage of Michigan’s point guard situation and the wealth of talented athletes to run the floor. I think Hardaway Jr. would best fit in an offense similar to this, one that emphasizes the pick-and-roll and isn’t afraid to get out and run.
What sets him apart from other draft prospects at his position?
I think Hardaway Jr. is the full package for an NBA shooting guard. He has the size and athleticism necessary for the position, a full arsenal of offensive weapons including NBA three point range on his jump shot, and a lot of experience handling the ball (Michigan would use him to bring the ball up against the press quite a bit). The one thing that sets him apart is that no one really knows if he can put all of this together. I think this is the biggest thing that sets him apart in my eyes: there is a vast range of possibilities for what kind of an NBA player Tim Hardaway Jr. could be, depending on his ability to get his mind right offensively in the NBA. He could be playing in Italy in six months or start for an NBA team for a decade as a solid second or third scoring option. The obvious physical talent is why he is shooting up draft boards. The questions about putting it together are what kept him as a fringe second rounder in every draft projection in the two years before this.
What’s your favorite memory of him at Michigan?
Hardaway Jr. had quite a few memorable moments, but the one that keeps coming back to me is the Ohio State-Michigan game this year in Ann Arbor. Michigan had struggled to keep pace with Ohio State over the first 30 minutes of the game, but Hardaway Jr. turned Michigan’s fortunes around by hitting five straight shots from deep. Those points carried Michigan’s offense over the next seven minutes and kept the Wolverines in the game that would eventually go to overtime. It was a very important home game for Michigan, and one where the rest of the team struggled (shooting just 38% from two-point range as a team). It was a huge performance in a major rivalry game between top ten teams, and it was just the kind of offensive explosion that Tim Hardaway Jr. was known for.
Here’s what some of the national mock drafts are saying about Schroeder:
SportingNews.com Analysis: Hardaway looked good at the combine in Chicago, and he has firmed up a place in the first round.
ESPN.com Analysis: Hardaway Jr. has been helping himself in workouts, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to move him out of the 20s. His draft night range is 7 to 27.
NBA.com Analysis: Hardaway competes, defends and will have some superior scoring nights.
Photo courtesy of ProjectSpurs.com