Complete NBA Draft Projection for Michigan Star Tim Hardaway Jr.
Tim Hardaway Jr. has blossomed into a legitimate college star and promising NBA prospect.
At first glance, it's not difficult to see his appeal at the next level. Judging from the eye test alone, Hardaway has the look of an NBA shooting guard and the game to go with it.
The good news for Hardaway is that he won't have to change anything about his game to make the transition from one level to the next. With the ability to play on and off the ball, Hardaway presents lineup flexibility and gives himself a better shot at logging minutes and finding a spot in a rotation.
Hardaway has prototypical size for an off-guard at 6'5'' with long arms and fluid athleticism. He's not overly defined and could add some bulk to his frame, but he's got the explosiveness attacking the rim that allows him to finish over traffic.
Off the Ball
One of the best qualities about Tim Hardaway Jr. as a scorer is his ability to play off the ball.
Hardaway moves well off the ball, occupying open space on the perimeter and running around screens to free himself up. He's capable of slashing from the wing and getting to the rim, or spotting up from downtown.
Slashing is not as simple as just cutting, catching and finishing. Hardaway has a good understanding of what angle to take as a slasher, how to shake his man and what footwork needs to be used to avoid traffic and finish at the rim.
Watch how Hardaway loses his man off the screen, catches and makes an adjustment getting to the basket:
As a catch-and-shooter, Hardaway is extremely fluid with NBA range. He also has the ability to heat up and put points on the board in bunches.
Against Northwestern, he knocked down four three-pointers within a short span without using a dribble. While he's clearly a threat as a sniper, he's also spreading the floor in the process playing away from the ball and creating better spacing for the offense.
He improved his three-point percentage from 28.3 percent as a sophomore to 37.4 percent as a junior.
On the Ball
Hardaway has the ability to create his own shot on the perimeter. He's got the potential to be an isolation scorer on the ball as someone who can generate offense by either attacking the rim or pulling up off the dribble.
Off the bounce, Hardaway has the ability to rise and fire over defenders. It's a tool that propels scorers to the next level, because it prevents a defender from being able to contest.
Watch how Hardaway used the bounce to gain rhythm and pull up over his defender.
Being able to create separation as a scorer is his most promising NBA tool. It's a way for him to consistently get open looks in the half court.
Hardaway's biggest challenge will be finding ways to contribute when his jumper isn't on. He's a little too dependent on his perimeter game, only getting to the free-throw line 2.9 times per contest.
Improving his handle could allow him to get to the rim a little more frequently.
Overall as a scorer, Hardaway just has to be more consistent. He's been somewhat streaky over the course of his career at Michigan, failing to shoot above 44 percent in any year.
Hardaway should look to attack north and south a bit more, as opposed to rely on low-percentage long two and three-pointers.
Draft Breakdown and NBA Outlook
Where do you see Tim Hardaway Jr. getting drafted?
Hardaway's maturity and development as an offensive player have put him on the first-round radar. He had a disappointing sophomore year shooting the ball, and it affected his stock as an NBA prospect. But he improved his percentages as a junior and started to make next-level plays on a regular basis.
His NBA outlook will be dependent on his ability to consistently make shots off the ball. He won't be given the freedom to dance around and overuse the dribble, so being able to knock down shots spotting up and slashing off the ball will help ease him into a new level of play.
Hardaway could end up going anywhere from No. 20 to No. 40.
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