Tim Hardaway Jr., SG
Coming into the season, Hardaway Jr was usually described as the following: “a salary cap burden from the Porzingis trade”, “a 3 point shooter without a consistent jumper”, “an overpaid bench player.” The point is pretty clear, he hasn’t been overly liked since his arrival to the DFW area.
That narrative rolled over into the first start of the preseason where Hardaway Jr only scored 2 points on 1-7 shooting and 1-4 on shots from the 3PT line. Although this performance was the first game of the preseason, it was against the expected starting lineup of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Hardaway Jr didn’t impress, much like the rest of the team that evening.
In his next start against the Milwaukee Bucks, Hardaway Jr scored 10 points on 40 percent while making 33 percent of his 6 three point attempts. Hardaway’s stats when in the starting lineup would suggest he simply isn’t playing well. However, Hardaway has been awfully good off the bench.
Against the Detroit Pistons, the former first round pick scored 17 points on 60 percent shooting and 43 percent shooting from the three-point line. Against the Thunder, scored 12 points shooting perfectly from the 3 point and free throw line. He only missed on shot the entire game. Against the Los Angeles Clippers, Hardaway Jr scored 15 points on 6 of 13 shooting attempts with 3 of those shots coming from the three-point line.
Hardaway Jr’s production from the bench has been really impressive and it has offset his less than desirable performances from his time in the starting lineup.
While Hardaway is an option for the team’s starting lineup, the bulk of his preseason production has come off the bench. Understandably preseason basketball is different from regular season basketball, but in a season of many unknowns for the Mavericks, it might be a smart idea to have the Michigan alumnus come and contribute off of the bench.
Is he the mystery man?