Tim Hardaway Jr.: Is He Any Good?

Tim Hardaway was one of the most underrated players of the 1990s, lost in the shuffle because his Warriors teams in the early part of the decade never came close to matching up with the likes of Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, Utah, San Antonio…man, the Western Conference was scary in the ’90s like it is now…

And his Miami Heat teams, as good as the ’97 edition of the squad was, got pantsed by Michael Jordan and the Bulls, bowed out to Jeff Van Gundy’s Knicks in 1998, ’99, and 2000, and that was it for the title window.

How odd then that the five-time All-Star’s namesake son, Tim Hardaway Jr., plays for the Knicks.

Thing is, New York’s not winning any playoff series anytime soon, and part of that is because Hardaway the Younger makes $17.3 million when he’s debatable at best as a player at that salary level.

And that’s the debate we’re going to address here in Is He Any Good this week.

4 years, $70 million or so is a little bit less than Myles Turner makes in Indiana, and other guys who make about what Hardaway does include Tristan Thompson, Reggie Jackson, Draymond Green, and Derrick Favors.

So in order to pass the Confirmed test, he’s gotta be at least as good as those guys. Ready, go!

The Counting Stats

Hardaway is putting up 20.8 points, 3.0 assists, and 3.4 rebounds as a pure volume scorer at the shooting guard position.

But he’s doing it while shooting 39.1 percent from the field, 35.4 percent from three, and even though his 7.8 three-point attempts per game are the most of his career and his percentage on them is better than his career average, he’s dropped off a cliff on two-point shots, posting the worst eFG% of his career.

He’s got a woeful 1.4 steal percentage and can’t block shots even by guard standards, so the counting stats basically have him as a homeless man’s Donovan Mitchell, the difference being Mitchell’s in his second year in the league and emerging as a potential top-tier defender as scoring 2-guards go in Utah.

Who would you rather have even if you gave Mitchell Hardaway’s contract and not the rookie deal Utah has him on?

But I digress. Point is Hardaway can’t shoot and he can’t guard anyone but he’s being asked to shoulder the lead scoring load on that wretched Knicks team. No wonder New York is 9-26. Kristaps Porzingis isn’t going to fix that.

The Advanced Stats

Hardaway was a good finisher at the rim his first few years in the league, consistently getting the ball to the rack and finishing at a clip over 64 percent.

This year? 53.8, which explains the .391 overall FG%.

On the bright side, he’s improved his free throw shooting, but if you take away his path to the rim and force him into a bad shot from that dead zone between layups and true midrange jumpers, get ready to get the defensive rebound; Hardaway is hitting just 29.1 percent between 3 and 10 feet.

His PER of 17.3 shows the flaw in a stat that rewards volume scorers. Look instead at his Box Plus/Minus (1.9 offensive, minus-3.4 defensive) and VORP/82 (0.25) for the demonstration of how his scoring only does the Knicks so good.

And his WS/48 are below the Starter Mendoza Line, at .060. That’s not what $17.3 million buys you unless you’re the Trail Blazers and your four-year, $70 million contract albatross is Evan Turner (Turner’s .036 for this season and .051 for his career are cover-your-eyes atrocious.)

So Wait, You’re Saying That…

Tim Hardaway Jr. isn’t any better than Evan Turner. That’s right.

I guess that means this is going to be a short night, because let’s get to…

THE VERDICT!

The Knicks are 9-26. Part of this is because Porzingis is out. Part of it is because a very competent backup center for last year’s team is racking up DNP-CDs in Indiana this year (I’m referring of course to Kyle O’Quinn.) And part of this is because Luke Kornet and Frank Ntilikina are not guys you win championships with, and when Emmanuel Mudiay is your starting point guard, something has gone horribly wrong. (I’ll talk more about Frank when he’s IHAG eligible in Year 3 of his career.)

But Tim Hardaway Jr. is nowhere near his old man’s ability as a passer, a defender, or anything other than a scorer. And his scoring is so inefficient that he shoots the Knicks out of more games than he shoots them into.

Hardaway’s $17 million isn’t a bad contract on the level of the extensions given to John Wall or Chris Paul, but it is a terrible contract at least as bad as Evan Turner’s in Portland.

We asked at the top of the show here whether Hardaway is a value—of any kind, really—for his salary slot.

The answer to that is a resounding no. This one’s Busted.

NEXT WEEK: Montrezl Harrell. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!