Why Tim Hardaway Jr. could be worth $71 Million

At the start of this season, many called Hardaway's contract overpaid. Now, it's starting to look like he's worth it.

It was hard not to balk at the idea of Tim Hardaway Jr. being paid $71 million going into the 2017 season. For most basketball fans, it was another suspect offer enabled by the cap spike in the Mozgov/Noah/Deng ballpark, and for Knicks fans especially it opened up old wounds left by Jerome James and Eddy Curry. We had cap space for a hot second and a large chunk of it immediately goes to a one-dimensional scorer who had a decent season with the Hawks, great. 

The first four games of the season Hardaway didn't exactly wow either; whether it was due to him adjusting to a Knicks system different to how he usually got his shots in Atlanta, or just an old-fashioned shooting slump, Hardaway struggled at the one thing he was supposed to be good at, scoring just under 10 points per game while averaging more than 12 attempts.

Then, The Cleveland game happened.

On the road against the Cavaliers, Hardaway broke out of his cold streak in a well-rounded fury, scoring 34 points on 11/19 shooting along with 8 assists (still a season high). The Cleveland Game was significant for two reasons: for one, it was just incredible to watch a player snap a shooting slump against Lebron and Co., but it was also the first inkling that Hardaway could be more than the me-first scorer type we thought we were getting from Atlanta. Since then he has continued his development as a complete player, improving his abilities that better the team as a whole rather than showcase his individual offensive talents.

Hardaway is currently tied for second with Frank Ntilikina in assists per game (3.5) for the Knicks and is a highly capable secondary playmaker when playing with Jarret Jack. While Jack (who currently leads the Knicks in assists) is a more confident and capable floor general in half-court scenarios, Hardaway has the requisite youth and athleticism on hand to do things like zipping fast-break passes to a rolling Enes Kanter: