Tim Hardaway, Jr.’s 2015-16 season was underwhelming to say the least. But so far this season, he appears to be turning the corner.
Many fans of the Atlanta Hawks were puzzled when the team traded for Tim Hardaway, Jr. during the 2015 NBA draft.
He did average 10.9 points per game in his first two NBA seasons with the Knicks. But when considering the fact that the Hawks gave up a first-round pick to acquire Hardaway, many fans thought he was too expensive.
Last season, Hardaway validated those thoughts. He spent much of the season on a yo-yo between the NBA and the D-League. In the 51 games he did appear, he averaged just 6.4 points on 43 percent shooting.
It looked as if the Hardaway experiment was a bust.This season, however, has been the best of Hardaway’s career to this point.
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So far in the 2016-17 campaign, Hardaway has put up 11.4 points per game in just over 21 minutes of action per night. He has also raised his field goal percentage almost three whole points, from 43 percent a year ago up to 45.8 percent now.
When he was brought into Atlanta, Hardaway was seen as a guy who could come off the bench and light up the scoreboard in a hurry. That didn’t really happen last season, but this year has been a different story.
Hardaway started the season off right, putting up 21 points in an opening night win against the Wizards. He has had three more double digit scoring outputs since then, including a 26-point explosion against the Lakers on November 2.
By comparison, Hardaway only had 12 double-digit scoring games all of last season.The Michigan product’s early success isn’t just a positive sign for his career. If he can keep it up, it would be huge for the Hawks down the road.
For the past couple of seasons, Atlanta has lacked a player that could come off the bench and fill up the basket quickly. Lou Williams has been the most recent Atlanta player to be cut from this mold. The best bench scorer the Hawks have had in a long time was Jamal Crawford, who averaged 16 points per game off the bench in his two years in Atlanta.
Now, Hardaway looks like he could be stepping into that role. If he could do so, it would go a long way in elevating the Atlanta Hawks toward the top of the Eastern Conference. On a team that lost the scoring of Jeff Teague and Al Horford from last season, all scoring is appreciated.
The season is still very young. This could be just a hot stretch for Hardaway, and he could easily revert back to his old form. But if he can keep it up, the Hawks might end up being the winners of that 2015 draft night trade after all.