The draft is done. The Knicks came away with Tim Hardaway Jr. as the 24th pick and nothing else from the draft itself. We did hear of some little moves outside the draft, which I'll get into in the next post. For now, let us try to understand New York's motives for picking Hardaway at 24.
Here is an unkindly lit video of Glen Grunwald discussing the pick with Jonah Ballow. Here is a quote that more or less sums up Grunwald's words if you can't watch the video:
#Knicks GM Glen Grunwald on Tim Hardaway Jr.: "We were impressed with his shooting, his athleticism and his overall demeanor."— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) June 28, 2013
Aside from the Knicks just believing Hardaway was the "best player" available (which Grunwald does say), let's get into the reasons for drafting him:
1. He fits. The Knicks already lost Jason Kidd and may lose Pablo Prigioni (although...) and/or J.R. Smith. No matter what, they needed a shooting guard. Hardaway certainly isn't a combo-y two ready to replicate some of last year's cherished two-point-guard lineups, but he is unquestionably a shooting guard and the Knicks need a shooting guard.
2. He shoots and does other stuff, too. We keep seeing the word "streaky" near Hardaway's name, but he's definitely got a nice outside stroke and, if you put your finger over his sophomore stat line, the shooting numbers to match. Hardaway's also athletic enough to get to the rim on or off the ball at one end and play a bit of defense at the other. It doesn't sound like he'd be considered ELITE at any of the skills listed above, but he's got the rudiments, the physique, and an apparent potential to learn and grow.
3. He has an apparent potential to learn and grow. That's seeming more and more like the big one. Grunwald specifically mentioned his demeanor above and everyone I spoke to last night immediately brought that up.
@seth_rosenthal known him since his fr. year. You want this kind of guy on your team. Mature, intelligent, hard working. Real.— Yago Colas (@YagoColas) June 28, 2013
(Yago Colas is a professor at Michigan and knows basketball as well as anyone on the internet/planet. He might be biased, but he's also smart as shit). Hardaway probably gave a terrific interview. When he was done, he probably met his bros for a drink and told them all he "crushed it". By all accounts, Hardaway is intelligent, articulate, and maximally easy to coach and play basketball with. Given the Knicks' preference for veterans, it makes sense that they'd want veteran qualities in a rookie.
So why are a lot of us still disappointed? I, for one, am not so much mad about New York drafting Hardaway as I am disappointed they passed on others at his position. Several comparable players were picked soon after Hardaway, and each of them intrigued me more. Reggie Bullock is bigger and more versatile, and had better shooting numbers if a bit less mobility. Jamaal Franklin isn't much of a shooter yet, but could become a multi-positional dynamo on defense. Allen Crabbe might not be as bouncy, but he's a big, smart kid with the best stroke of the bunch. I am woefully ill-informed, but I would have preferred any of those three (at least one of whom, by the way, could have been acquired by trading way down), plus a couple more guys at other positions.
I'm coming around, though, like I always do. For one, Hardaway will see a diminished, more defined role in the pros and, one would think, will see better looks than he did in college. (This is true of nearly everyone else, but, well, it's also true of Hardaway). For two, the Knicks have done a solid enough job appraising unproven talent in recent years that I'm inclined to trust them if they think they found a guy who fits and could fulfill his potential.
So, I think the Knicks' reasons for drafting Tim Hardaway Jr. are clear and sound. Left to my relatively inexpert self, I would have picked another, similar player (probably Bullock) for the very same reasons, so I'm a bit disappointed. I trust New York's scouts with judgments like this one, though, so I am also hopeful and prepared to be wrong in my pre-draft preferences. I look forward to Hardaway's introduction at noon today, and I look forward to watching him take the floor as a Knick (assuming the Knicks don't trade him or excommunicate him to the moon or something. One never knows).
More to come!