Feb 15, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New York Knicks guard Tim Hardaway, Jr (5) during the 2014 NBA All Star Shooting Stars competition at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks: Time to start the rookie

Feb 7, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (5) dunks against the Denver Nuggets during the second half at Madison Square Garden. The New York Knicks won the game 117-90. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

This season has not been the best for the 21-33 New York Knicks.

They have gone on long stretches of losing streaks, blown a countless number of games due to lack of go to options in the fourth, and have just been inconsistent for most of the season.

Amidst the negatives, there has been one bright spot: the emergence of rookie shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr.

The Knicks were loaded in the backcourt heading into the regular season and it seemed as though, Hardaway Jr. would have to battle and work his way to the top to earn more minutes in a backcourt with established players such as reigning sixth man of the year, J.R. Smith, starting point guard, Raymond Felton, and what was supposed to be a breakout season for young two guard, Iman Shumpert.

Smith and Shumpert have been inconsistent throughout this season, while Felton has been injured and even when he is healthy he has been terrible for the most part. Hardaway Jr. has stepped up in the face of adversity, and has become a consistent force off the bench, thus far proving to be the best guard on the team and arguably second best player on the team behind superstar Carmelo Anthony.

In a field of inconsistent guard play throughout the Knicks disappointing season, Hardaway Jr. has been a pleasant surprise. He has averaged 9.5 points per game, 0.9 assists per game, and 1.5 rebounds per game, and although his numbers might not seem to eye popping averaging only nine points a game, he is only playing in 20 minutes a game and he got off to a slow start trying to get accustomed to the NBA playing style which is extremely difficult compared to college ball.

Hardaway Jr.’s PER 36 is more representative of his ability as his statistics are raised to 15.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.5 apg. Hardaway Jr. has also proven to be an efficient shooter, as well as teammate as he has accumulated a PER of 13.89, while also tallying a true shooting % of 57.6, for not only one of the highest figures amongst rookies this season, but as one of the highest amongst established NBA players over the course of the 2013 – 2014 season.

His numbers as of late have elevated him to be one of the Knicks first players off the bench along with Amar’e Stoudemire and J.R. Smith, due to recent injuries to many contributing role players. His play has also earned him a spot in the Rising Stars Challenge to play with some of the brightest young stars in the NBA, on Team Webber (Chris Webber).

In a season of disappointment and inconsistency, Tim Hardaway Jr. has been a nice bright spot and something Knicks fans can be proud of in this awful season, and although if the Knicks do make the playoffs and the campaign transpires with little, or no success, the breakout of Hardaway Jr. is one of the biggest positives the Knicks could have hoped for this season.

Tags: New York Knicks Tim Hardaway Jr

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