After sending former All-Star SG Kyle Korver to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Hawks have continued to remain competitive in the Eastern Conference — even when it seemed as if they were more than ready to completely bolster their roster.
Well, that hasn’t been the case.
Since January 6th, when the Hawks sent away Korver, they’ve embarked on a steady 9-4 record ever since. And while starting in his place, Tim Hardaway Jr. has been on an impressive run. However, this was a long-time coming.
Prior to the 2015 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks gave away Hardaway Jr. in exchange for the Hawks’ draft rights to Jerian Grant. After averaging 10.8 PPG in 23.5 minutes during his first-two seasons with the Knicks, Hardaway Jr. wasn’t able to find consistent playing-time off the bounce.
In 2015-16, Hardaway appeared in 51 games, and averaged just over six-points a night in his first season with the Hawks. There wasn’t much room for him due to Korver obviously remaining as a surefire starter, especially after coming off a historical 2014-15 campaign.
But at this point, I believe Hardaway Jr. has found a home with the Hawks. Through 48 games in 2016-17, he’s coming across career-highs in scoring, rebounding, assisting, and even in efficiency. And to propel the Hawks in last night’s 20-point comeback win over the Houston Rockets, Hardaway Jr went absolutely nuts — finishing with 24 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter. The Hawks picked up a 113-108 road-win, in Dwight Howard’s return to Houston:
Through his last-ten games, Tim is averaging 14.5 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3.3 RPG, on 42% shooting from the field, and nearly 33% from three. Coming into the league, Hardaway has had issues in terms of becoming efficient, but when Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer allocates more time for him on the court, he flourishes nicely. Per 36 minutes, Hardaway Jr is averaging 18.5 PPG on 15.5 shots.
It was rumored earlier that the Hawks were willing to trade Hardaway, because they weren’t intending to extend him this summer. It seems like game-in and game-out, he’s proving to the organization, as well as his doubters — that they’re completely wrong.
I can’t help but to be excited for the 24-year old guard from Michigan. Sure, he has a long ways to go before he can claim himself underneath the same breath as his legendary father. However, if he can continue to obtain about 15-20 shots every night, he could become a very comfortable scorer for many years down the line. It certainly seems as if the Hawks are invested into him, and they should be.