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On the surface, using their only first-round pick over the last two years on a shooting guard didn't make a lot of sense for a team that already had Iman Shumpert at the position and was planning to bring back J.R. Smith in free agency.
Though Tim Hardaway Jr. is certainly worthy of the No. 24 overall pick in terms of talent, the big issue with the selection is that he's unlikely to play a major part in the rotation when everyone's healthy.
As of right now, though, not everyone is healthy. Smith is out for 3-4 months following knee surgery and might not be available on opening day. New York will miss his scoring when he's out, but Hardaway is a good shooter who can help make up for his absence.
Of course, the Knicks didn't just draft Hardaway to cover for Smith if he misses a few games at the start of the year. That would be a waste of a pick.
The main reason New York drafted Hardaway is simply to give themselves options when J.R. inevitably goes cold and shoots the team out of games.
New York had no real choice but to re-sign Smith in the summer. Despite his troubles with consistency, they couldn't have spent the money on anyone else and would have struggled to make up his 18.1 points per game if he left.
With that said, the Knicks clearly understand that Smith isn't the most reliable player around, and hasn't proven he can be a consistent second option for Carmelo Anthony. That's why they brought in a quality backup that can cover for him when needed.
At this point in his career, Hardaway is nowhere near as good as Smith, but he is certainly better than the Smith we saw in the playoffs. Had the Knicks had him as an option off the bench when J.R. was shooting 29 percent from the field against Indiana, it would have been a completely different series.
All the team needed was someone other than Melo to take some of the scoring load. That would have gotten the offense flowing again and might just have been enough to take them to the conference finals.
Smith was great last year, but now that there's more competition for him at shooting guard, he will be forced to perform for his minutes, which will hopefully make him a better player.
In an ideal world, J.R. will become more reliable down the line, but the front office understands that they can't bank on that. For the asking price, bringing him back was a no-brainer, but they couldn't go into November with Smith having the power to make or break the team's season. They needed a contingency plan for the nights when he doesn't show up and Hardaway is exactly that.