After the Knicks drafted Iman Shumpert, I went on a Matt Moore/Mike Conley-esque rant about how angry I was they picked Shumpert over Chris Singleton.
Basically, I made a complete ass of myself. I’ve learned since then that being definitive about things regarding the NBA Draft is dumb and ridiculous. The people who get paid to scout for a living can’t figure it out consistently, so there is no way I’m going to be able to.
There are too many variables and unknowns, as players transition from college to the NBA to really nail down how one’s game will adjust.
That being said, I was disappointed when the New York Knicks took Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr. with the 24th pick in Thursday night’s draft.
I am a Michigan fan and I have watched pretty much every game Hardaway has played in the Maize and Blue.
This is going to sound weird — I would say from Hardaway’s perspective, the Knicks are a perfect fit, but from New York’s point of view, he wasn’t the optimal pick.
The transition for Timmy from Michigan to the Knicks should be easy. Both teams run spread pick-and-roll, four out, one in offenses. His role in the NBA will be similar to the one he played in college, space the court on the wing (maybe he gets used more in the corner at the professional level) and have duties as a secondary ball handler. Instead of playing off Trey Burke, he will be receiving passes from Carmelo Anthony and Ray Felton.
Considering what Hardaway was asked to do at Michigan, he should have been a more consistent player. Out of the Wolverines three wings (him, Nik Stauskus and Glenn Robinson III), Timmy was the least efficient. His true shooting % was .538 as a junior and he shot .374 from three. Those are decent numbers, but since he was playing off the best point guard in the country, in the most efficient offense, they should have been better.
His best offense came off spot-ups and in transition, showing that he’s not great at creating for himself. Timmy is mainly going to do work in straight line drives, pull up jumpers and occasional pick and rolls when handling the ball.
Defensively, Hardaway doesn’t jump off the page, but he isn’t horrible. He did well when asked to guard bigger players and his junior season he did a solid job helping out on the boards. Tim was far from a defensive stopper and Michigan played poor team defense, which he deserved some of the blame for.
The most fascinating part of Hardaway’s career was his freshman year was his best season.
His highest PER, TS%, offensive rating and win shares per 48 minutes were all from his first season.
You would normally think this is a bad thing, but here is an excerpt from a story ESPN’s Kevin Pelton wrote:
Early performance matters: When I began incorporating multiple seasons, I anticipated that the most recent campaign would predict NBA performance best. Instead, I found the opposite. In the past, Per Diem predecessor John Hollinger noted that players coming off a down season tended to do better than expected, but I found the effect both ways. How prospects perform at a young age appears more telling than whether they dominate younger opponents as upperclassmen.
The fact that Hardaway’s freshman year was his best season isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
That doesn’t mean I’m not concerned. He was basically the same player as junior that he was as a freshman. I didn’t see him show tangible improvement in any area of his game. His TO% was actually worse in his third year than his first year, despite having a lower usage. That’s not a trend I like.
One other concern I have is Timmy’s sophomore year. Coming off his excellent freshman campaign, Hardaway was expecting to be the focal point of the offense and to have a significantly increased role. That wasn’t how it played out, as Trey Burke came in as a freshman and Michigan head coach John Beilein kept his point guard heavy offense. Burke and Hardaway didn’t mesh well and he had his worst of three years in Ann Arbor. The issues were smoothed over and he did play better as a junior, though.
I do think Hardaway can have a successful NBA career, I just didn’t like some of the players Glen Grunwald passed over to take him. Someone like Reggie Bullock, who shot .438% from three on North Carolina, which had less talent than Michigan, seemed to be a better option. Other players I would have preferred were Allen Crabbe, Tony Mitchell, Ricky Ledo, Jeff Withey, Archie Goodwin, Ryan Kelly, Glen Rice Jr. and Jamaal Franklin.
Just like I ended up being wrong with Singleton and Shump, I would like nothing more than to be wrong about those players careers compared to Hardaway’s. Him being able to come in and contribute from day one would be a huge plus to the Knicks roster and maybe even a necessity for them to build on last year’s success.