Most teams have some sort of ‘X’ factor.

For the Mavericks, it might be Tim Hardaway Jr. Then again, judging from his impressive play so far in training camp, he might not be any sort of question mark at all going into the season.

To refresh your memory, it was just over eight months ago – Jan. 25, to be precise – when Hardaway took a nasty step and broke a bone in his left foot. A week later he had surgery and missed the final three months of the regular season and all of the playoff run.

It’s easy to forget what he brought to the Mavericks. But it’s the sort of stuff that they are going to need this season. They must fill the 16.4 points, 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds that Jalen Brunson took with him to the New York Knicks.

Hardaway figures to get an opportunity to be the slack-picker-upper.

And the one thing that appears to be a non-factor in his run-up to the season is his health.

During the Fan Jam scrimmage on Saturday, he had 20 points and hit six 3-pointers in rapid-fire fashion, giving every indication that any foot issues are behind him.

“I had the opportunity to (work out) with Tim twice this summer,” said Mavericks’ assistant coach Jared Dudley, who coached Hardaway’s Blue team in the scrimmage. “The first time, I went out to Miami and I could tell it was still bothering him.

“But by the end of the summer, full go. And he’s been a full go in practice the whole time. So to see him hit shots – Tim’s going to be a huge part of our success this year, especially when we lose Brunson. Returning someone like that, a 15- 16-point scorer and can shoot the ball at such a high level, it was good.”

His teammates certainly have noticed and have been impressed by the way the 6-5 guard has recovered from what was a serious injury.

“Amazing. He’s back,” said Frank Ntilikina. “I think you saw that at the open practice. He’s been full of energy. I think sometimes people hold him back so he’ll go through the process (slowly). But he’s really motivated for the season and he’s giving that motivation to everybody on the court.”

Hardaway is likely to start this season coming off the bench. But then, so did Brunson last season.

Hardaway could join Christian Wood, Davis Bertans, Dwight Powell, Josh Green and Ntilikina to form a potent group off the bench.

But no matter the role, he has some serious motivation going into the season after having to spend so much time as a moral supporter on the bench.

“I do think they are getting a different player,” Hardaway said of his role. “I only played a handful of games last year. All I can say is I’m excited to go out and compete and give my all.

“JB, what he brought to this team was amazing. He had an incredible run and a well-deserved contract out of New York. I wish him the best. But I don’t think it changes anything here. I got to go out and compete and bring the energy at both ends of the floor.”

As for the foot, he said: “I feel great. I had an awesome summer. I was able to get back to doing what I love the most. I was very happy with the surgery, very happy with the rehab process and also very happy I was able to support my guys while I was out.

“I just embraced all that going into the summer and now I’m 100 percent healthy, ready to go.”

You might remember the last time we saw Hardaway on the court. He was alongside Theo Pinson on the sideline, the vocal cheerleaders who were so good at their job, the NBA created a rule after them.

The Mavericks were fined three times in the playoffs because of infractions on the “bench decorum” rule.

Hardaway takes pride in that.

“We had a little Miami Vice action going on when we were on the sideline,” he said. “The NBA made a rule after us, so we must have been doing something right, right?”

So is that the Tim Hardaway Jr. rule?

“That is definitely the Theo Pinson Rule, 1000 percent,” he quickly corrected.

This season, Hardaway is going to be doing a lot more than just keeping the energy up on the sideline.

And he’s off to a fabulous start in training camp, coach Jason Kidd said.

“He didn’t look rusty on Saturday,” Kidd said. “He shot the ball extremely well. His voice is being heard, not just hearing it from the sideline like last year cheering, but now he’s playing and still using that voice, which is much-needed with our group.

“It’s just a matter of getting some of that rust off, which we’ll see in the upcoming preseason games how much time we can get him.”

The preseason opens Wednesday against Oklahoma City in Tulsa.

Hardaway figures to play in at least two of the three exhibitions and he can’t wait.

“I would say it lights a fire under me a little bit,” he said of having missed so much of last season. “I think I’m a little more serious going into this training camp, definitely got a chip on my shoulder.”

He said the culture that Kidd and president of basketball operations Nico Harrison have built in the first year of their stewardship of the team has been impressive.

Lots of energy, lots of accountability and lots of communication has been key and Hardaway said the veterans take it upon themselves to pass that mindset on to the newer Mavericks.

And one more thing, Hardaway said: “Just go out there and hoop. This is an easy sport that we play. Don’t make it too hard on yourself.”

Twitter: @Esefko

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