Tim Hardaway Jr will regress with the Knicks

Tim Hardaway Jr flourished in certain situations with the Hawks. However, he looks likely to take a step back next season due to the construction of the Knicks' roster.

Tim Hardaway Jr. is a high-level offensive player in certain situations, but his career year was certainly helped by the way Dennis Schroder ran Atlanta's offense last season. The game styles of Ron Baker, Ramon Sessions, and Frank Ntilikina are vastly different from Schroder's, and they will not help Hardaway despite being pass-first options at this stage. 

According to Synergy, Hardaway was listed as 'excellent' as a spot up shooter (86th percentile) and 'excellent' as a cutter (88th percentile). For a scoring wing, these are extremely valuable traits--particularly as a second or third option on a team. It must be known that Hardaway Jr. rarely cut to the rim, with only 50 attempts on the season.

However, Hardaway was able to flourish as defenses collapsed on Schroder as he would drive and kick. None of the Knicks point guards have the ability to draw that attention, meaning the amount of unguarded spot up shots will drop dramatically for Hardaway. Ntilikina may be the best help for Hardaway, but he lacks the speed with the ball in hand to make defenses collapse. 

Perhaps it is a statistical quirk, but Hardaway actually shot better on guarded catch and shoot situations than he did in unguarded possessions - he'll be doing that a fair bit with the lack of players able to create shots for others on the roster, so perhaps that's a positive sign. It seems unlikely that he can keep that up over the next four years, but Knicks fans know how fond he is of taking contested jump shots. 

There will be times when Hardaway Jr. will have to run some pick and roll, something he was not often asked to do in his first stint with the Knicks. With the Hawks, he actually ran it 211 times and scored 0.825 points per possession, which was in the 59th percentile. Not bad, but certainly something he will need to work on. 

Hardaway's development as an all-round offensive player last year should not be understated. In the 2015-16 season, he was used as a spot up shooter 35% of the time, and a pick and roll ball handler less than nine percent of the time. In his small sample size in a PnR situation in 2015-16, he was in the tenth percentile at just 0.538 points per possession. It is clear that he is now becoming a player who can create for others and himself, rather than being so one-dimensional. 

With no one to really create offense for Hardaway Jr., those great spot-up stats are likely to drop and the calls are going to come thick and fast about how he was overpaid. 

It may take until the third year of his contract until the Knicks can get someone who can genuinely make Hardaway better, so patience is certainly needed. 

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