Sep 30, 2013; Tarrytown, NY, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. answers questions during media day at MSG Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Is Tim Hardaway Jr. the Future of NY Knicks?

Tim Hardaway Jr. will be a star in the NBA.

Selected 24th overall by the New York Knicks in the 2013 NBA draft, the son of former pro Tim Hardaway has exceeded expectations early on in the preseason for N.Y.

Hardaway drilled a cold-blooded game-winner in his very first preseason contest (shown below)—a 103-102 win over the Boston Celtics—and has made it clear that he can make an immediate impact for the Knicks in 2014.

 

The former Michigan standout has averaged nearly 13 points a game on 38 percent shooting thus far, and has also hit 37 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. His ability to make consistent three-pointers will be key in beginning the season in Mike Woodson’s roster, as the Knicks took and made more three’s than any other team in the league a season ago.

There’s also something that stats don’t display about Hardaway’s short time with New York. Based on the eye test, he looks the part of a future star. There’s no fear in his eyes, and he isn’t intimidated going up against established NBA players.

Hardaway has been given the nod of approval by his coach and teammates, most notably superstar Carmelo Anthony, who appears to be making a conscious effort to reach out to the young guard.

“[Anthony] was just saying it’s your time to shine now,” Hardaway said after he hit the game-winner. “Go out there and go to work, do what you do best, do what you do that got you to this level. It was great just to see a veteran like him talk to me like that and support me in that aspect.”

Iman Shumpert, New York’s other budding star, has developed great chemistry with Hardaway while on the court together. Both are athletic, hungry and defensive-minded guards with the ability to stretch the floor, and have formed an off-court friendship, as well.

Oct 11, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Knicks shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (5) celebrates with teammates after the Knicks went on a scoring drive against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Knicks 100-91. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Hardaway and Shumpert have been the Knicks’ number one and two scorers, respectively, early on in the preseason, and will give N.Y. depth at both the shooting guard and small forward positions. Woodson is going to have his hands full in determining how these pieces fit together, but he definitely made one thing clear.

“I think Tim has put himself in a nice position to play, there’s no doubt about that,” Woodson said. “He’s going to be in the rotation.”

Being that Woodson is one of the most old-school coaches in the NBA, and has had a tendency to favor veterans over young guns in his rotation, that’s high praise.

Hardaway will be a big part of what the Knicks do, and how far they’ll go, in 2014. If he can give the team six to eight points and two boards a night, New York will probably be playing with the best bench in the NBA—J.R. Smith, Metta World Peace, Amar’e Stoudemire, Pablo Prigioni, and Hardaway could be a starting unit on another team.

Down the road, the Knicks will need Hardaway to blossom into a star. But in 2014, all they’ll need from him is hard-nosed defense, a consistent outside shot and relentless effort every night—just like his dad back in the day.

Tags: NBA Offseason New York Knicks Tim Hardaway Jr

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