Tim Hardaway Jr., the first round selection in the most recent NBA draft, by the Knicks, has been a spark plug off the bench. He has demonstrated his ability to drain three pointers with ease — as he currently leads rookie in three point percentage from behind the arc — and slam down electrifying dunks. Raymond Felton is injured and has not played well all season, and JR Smith has also mainly been lackadaisical this whole season. In need of a starter, is Hardaway the man for the job?
The main reason this is even an argument is because of JR Smith’s atrocious play since his return from surgery this summer. He can not make a single shot, and with his mediocre defense he has done next to nothing to help the Knicks this season. Raymond Felton tried battling through a nagging hamstring injury, but after poor play he re-aggravated it and is now shut down for at least 2 weeks. Shumpert, Bargnani, and Anthony are the only guaranteed starters, but Pablo Prigioni has been playing outstanding ball and earned himself a spot in the lineup. Could Tim Hardaway Jr. fill the gap that is still left?
I say yes.
He has shown a very good offensive game, draining three pointers, finishing in the paint, and his defense is not to shabby either. He has played much better than Smith and Shumpert, so not going with Hardaway Jr. would be head-scratching. Why go with a struggling player when you can go with a player who can make a positive impact?
With the way Smith is playing, he is hurting the Knicks more than he is helping. It is a low risk-high reward situation. Hardaway cannot play much worse than Smith is playing as of late, so it is nearly a given he will play better, and give the Knicks a better chance to win and turn their season around.
Mike Woodson is also on the hot seat, coaching a struggling Knicks team that had high aspirations and expectations heading into this season. If starting Hardaway helps the team, it will be a good move on Woodson’s part and it will help him slowly move off the hot seat.
Starting Hardaway would be the best decision if Smith continues to struggle — and it does not look like he will snap out of this slump anytime soon. Hardaway Jr. is the best option to join the Knicks starting five.