"HARDAWAY IS GOTTA BE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR!!" Those were the words of a fan near me at last week's Knicks-Cavs game. A game in which Hardaway scored a career high 29 points. No one knew what to expect when he came out of Michigan after a very underwhelming NCAA Tournament and an injury-riddled summer league. He caught the perfect storm for a late draft pick, the first pick of the draft is making a strong case for the worst player in the league and the leading rookie of the year candidates have been making zero noise recently. In fact Bennet is the only player where other players have gone to watch tape of him and then do the exact opposite of whatever he does (It's worked wonders for Kevin Durant this season). Not only have the top picks sucked, but the late rounders have been even worse. I thought Dennis Scroeder would've quickly turned into the hands down best player in this draft, instead he's bouncing in and out of the D-League. The undrafted rookie Pero Antic made the Rising Stars Game over the "electrifying" Ben Mclemeore who had a case for top three just last June. And then there's Hardaway, who right now has been playing like a top five pick with a whopping 20 minutes a game for a late first rounder. Most late guys maybe get a couple chances here and there but not this much since day one. Trying to figure out how Hardaway might pan out once this roller coaster rookie year ends I looked at some other late draft picks who's rookie seasons were right on course with Hardaway's and how they've faired since.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIOS
Landry Fields: 2nd Round 39th Overall
Oh, yikes. Remember when Fields was considered the most valuable asset of the Melo trade? Boy how far has he come since then. Ever since his spectacular rookie year he's plummeted. This year he's played in just 23 of Toronto's games and has been nonexistent. Not to mention the 36% field goal shooting and a total of 0-5 from three. The scary part here is that his rookie stats are identical to Hardaway's.
Hardaway and Landry rookie years
*gulp* A couple things though that might show hope to decrease the chance that this'll happen to Timmy. After His rookie year Fields decided that it would be a good idea to give his shot a mini makeover. The results: 25% 3 point shooting the next year. Dear Hardaway, you've got one of the prettiest jump shots in the league already, just leave it alone. Landry also played in D'Antoni's system the first year which often times can make or break most scrubs. Also, Landry's production went down the second Melo arrived. Which shows hope for Hardaway because he's gotten those stats while playing with three other players and a black hole. As similar as their stats are, I feel like their games are just different enough to make sure Hardaway doesn't become Landry Fields 2.0.
Marshon Brooks: 1st Round 25th Overall
This is a guy who's fallen off the face of the planet since a pretty solid rookie year. he didn't get quite as much hype as Fields, mostly because he was playing for the 22-44 New Jersey Nets who at times forgot they had a basketball team. His stats are a little more different than Hardaway's, but their mindsets are very similar. Neither one is afraid to shoot, a good sign and both have insane athletic ability
Marshon Brooks 2011-12 First Half Mix ROY? (via Matt Centore)
Their jumpers are nearly identical, with Hardaway getting just a bit higher on his. The video was also titled, "Marshon Brooks First Half ROY? Yes, the nine New Jersey Nets fans in existence thought he'd be rookie of the year, sort of like the millions of Knicks fans for Hardaway. Brooks is now bouncing around the D-League/ Warriors after he was exposed for just playing offense. Ya might wanna pay attention to that Hardaway.
THE BEST CASE SCENARIO
Chandler Parsons: 2nd Round 38th Overall
Parsons has turned into a top three player on a contender, the ultimate goal for a second rounder. Ever since entering the league in 2011, Parsons has only gotten better, going from 9 PPG, to 15, and now to 17. He's also managed to do it with a player very similar to Melo. Him and Hardaway have some rookie stats that are really similar while also things Hardaway could work on.
Hardaway and Parsons rookie years
At some point, if Hardaway wants to play more than 20 minutes a night he's gonna have to add another part to his game besides spot up shooting and fast break finishes. Bulking up a bit might help his rebounding but could increase the chance of an injury.
Who knows what'll happen with Hardaway, judging that a homegrown Knicks player has the life expectancy of 2-3 years. Hardaway's still got a lot to work on, and I don't necessarily see much getting better if he stays with the Knicks judging by Iman's development...