Last season Tim Hardaway Jr. wavered between being a starter for the Dallas Mavericks, or as their primary scoring option coming off the bench.

Going into this season, that indecisiveness won’t be there.

On Tuesday, the second day of training camp, coach Jason Kidd announced that Hardaway would be the Mavs’ starting shooting guard this season. Well, actually that important decision was made before training camp.

“I asked him in the summer what he wanted to do, and he wanted to think about it,” Kidd said. “So when he came back – that was enough time for him to think – and I asked for the answer, and he wants to start. And I believe he should start.”

In 31 starts last year, Hardaway averaged 18.6 points and shot 45 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from 3-point range. In 39 games off the bench last year, the 6-5, 205-pounder averaged 15.1 points and converted 44.4 percent of his field goals and 38.5 percent of his 3-pointers.

With the ‘will he start or will he come off the bench?’ debate ended prior to Wednesday’s preseason opener against the Utah Jazz at American Airlines Center, Hardaway can’t wait to show off his leadership skills. The 29-year old is entering his ninth season and believes that side of his game has been largely untapped.

“I do feel like I’ve created that niche where I am a leader on the team,” Hardaway said. “With that being said though, I do know my role and I do know who keeps this thing churning is J-Kidd and Luka (Doncic) and KP (Kristaps Porzingis).

“We’re definitely going to have to need everybody to be on deck. I’m just there to make sure everything goes smoothly.”

Tim Hardaway Sr. to the Hall of Fame?This will be Kidd’s second time having an up-close and personal relationship with a member of the Hardaway family. From Kidd’s rookie season as a player with the Mavs in 1994 until 2003, Kidd played in the NBA against Tim Hardaway Sr.

Kidd and Hardaway Sr. also teamed up and helped the United States win a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

In Kidd’s humble opinion, is there a distinct difference between the two Hardaways?

“Senior, incredible point guard in our league,” he said. “Very difficult to guard – if to guard. You just tried to get in the way.

“They want to win, and I think that just runs in the family. It’s a beautiful thing to see a father and a son, and for the son to learn from the father. So I think they’re very competitive.”

So competitive that Kidd wouldn’t dare reveal which Hardaway he thinks is the better shooter.

“I wonder who’s going to have the bragging rights of who’s the better shooter,” Kidd said. “I’m going to let those two battle that out, but Tim can flat-out shoot the ball, and so can his dad.

“And they’re not afraid of the moment, and I love that about junior. But as an opponent guarding Tim, I hated it, because he was always up for that big shot, and unfortunately he always made it.”

Hardaway acknowledged that he’s had discussions with his dad about how competitive Kidd was during his playing days and was told that Kidd was “a great player, high IQ” who made 10 All-Star teams.

“I’ve watched coach Kidd play during my time as a kid growing up with my dad and my mom,” Hardaway said. “Just watching him play and seeing him win a championship (with the Mavs in 2011) against the Miami Heat – I was at those games as well when I was in college. Just seeing him and visualizing him playing and seeing his style of play, it was awesome.

“His IQ is high level the way he got his teammates involved, the way that he shot the ball throughout his career, especially towards the end of his career – a knock-down 3-point shooter. It was great just to finally see him become a coach now with us, and hopefully we can get the job done.”

The Mavs certainly can get the job done and perhaps venture deep into the playoffs this season if they can get another solid year of production from Hardaway. Two years ago, Hardaway buried 204 shots from 3-point range and last season he converted 207 shots from downtown.

The only other Mavs player with more 3-pointers was George McCloud, who made 257 triples in the 1995-96 season when he was a teammate of Kidd’s.

“I think (making 3-pointers) is always important,” Kidd said of Hardaway. “Especially if you make that many in a year, we would love that and more this year.

“When you talk about Tim, he’s a true pro. He competes on both ends, he wants to win, he’s very unselfish as a teammate, so I’m happy that we have him back. He looks great so far in training camp.”

Hardaway, who averaged 16.6 points while playing a team-high 70 games last season, is very appreciative of the energy Kidd has brought to training camp.

“I would say there’s a different type of energy, a different pop in the facility, and it’s positive and it’s good,” Hardaway said. “Just having those type of guys with that energy on the staff where they want you to go out and have that hunger mentality, that dog in you to go out there and play hard and fight for your teammates, it shows.

“They are definitely open-minded and they all want to know our thoughts and what we’re thinking at any given day and any given time. And they’re open to whatever, so it’s great just to have a staff that’s all on board to do so.”

And Kidd noted it’s great to have Hardaway on board – as his starting shooting guard in the backcourt with Doncic.

“In the versatility that we have around our wings, he could start or he could come off the bench,” Kidd said. “Again, he’s very unselfish.

“It’s about the team first, and that’s always helpful for a coach. But I truly believe he’s a starter in this league.”

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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