2013 NBA Draft – #24: Tim Hardaway Jr.
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the New York Knicks selected University of Michigan product Tim Hardaway Jr. with the 24th overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft.
The Knicks have holes to plug across the roster, but were in particular need of frontcourt depth (especially a backup center) and a wing – preferably a defensive minded small-forward.
The one thing New York seemed to have plenty of was perimeter shooters, considering they led the NBA in three-point attempts and makes during the 2012-13 season. The Knicks finished last season ranked third in overall offensive efficiency.
In contrast, NY was ranked in the bottom half of the NBA in defensive efficiency. They were also 25th in rebounding and dead last in blocks. Consequently, many believed New York would opt for the best big man available (Kansas product Jeff Withey, perhaps?).
Instead, GM Glen Grunwald and the Knicks brain trust bolstered a strength by selecting Hardaway Jr.
It was likely a case of choosing the time-honored “best player available.” And if Grunwald and company truly believed Hardaway was that special, then the pick makes far more sense. Especially when you consider how few opportunities the Knicks will have over the next few years to add youth and talent to an aging and cap-strapped roster. Remember, the Knicks have traded away their first-round pick next year (2014) and have also traded away their second-round picks in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
It should also be noted that Hardaway provides insurance should New York lose J.R. Smith, Pablo Prigioni, and/or Chris Copeland in free agency.
And make no mistake, Hardaway can shoot. As a junior at Michigan, Hardaway shot a solid 43.7% from the floor and an impressive 37.4% from behind-the-arc.
One discouraging trend during Hardaway’s college career was his free-throw shooting. He shot 76.5% from the FT stripe as freshman; but that number had dipped to 69.4% last season. In addition, he attempted fewer than three free-throws a game during his final season in Ann Arbor (down from 4.4 FTA per contest the prior season). It is safe to assume the Knicks will encourage him to be far more aggressive and utilize his ample athleticism by attacking the basket.
Defensively, he wasn’t a standout in college, but he certainly showed promise. He isn’t blessed with a long wingspan (just 6’7), but he competes hard and has the athletic ability to stay in front of nearly any player he is matched up with. For a Knick team that had great difficulty denying penetration to opposing guards last season, this a welcomed sight.
Hardaway is also credited with a phenomenal work ethic by coaches and pundits alike. He’ll need it to makes the strides necessary to become a contributor for the Knicks next season and beyond.