With the NBA’s restart fast approaching, it’s time to catch up on where Mavericks’ players stand after what will be more than four months between basketball games. With that in mind, Mavs.com will supply a series on each player on the roster, what they did before the break, and what they must do if the Mavericks are to make a deep run in the playoffs. Next up is Tim Hardaway Jr.
The facts: A starter for the balance of his basketball career – be it on the high school, college or NBA level – Tim Hardaway Jr. suddenly saw himself being asked to come off the bench prior to this season. Hardaway accepted that challenge of doing something he’s never been asked to do. But being the renaissance man that he is, Hardaway didn’t waste much time working his way back into the starting lineup. Of the 63 games he’s played this season, Hardaway started 50 of those games. Overall, Hardaway is averaging 15.8 points and 3.1 rebounds, and is shooting 43.7 percent from the field and a career-high 40.7 percent from 3-point land. In other words, he’s locked in as the Mavs’ No. 3 scorer behind Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
Contract status: Tim Hardaway Jr. is in the final weeks of a contract that pays him a little over $20 million this season. Next season there’s a player option in Hardaway’s contract that’ll pay him $18.975 million if he picks up that option.
Pre-hiatus highlights: In the Mavs’ final game before the season was suspended, Tim Hardaway Jr. collected 14 points and five rebounds in the 113-97 victory over the Denver Nuggets. During a four-game span surrounding the All-Star break, Hardaway played some of his best basketball of the season. The seven-year veteran poured in a season-high 33 points during a Feb. 10 game at Utah. Three games later, he tied his season high by tossing in 33 points in a Feb. 22 game at the Atlanta Hawks. Hardaway surpassed the 6,000-point plateau in his career in the game against Utah, and also made his 800th career 3-pointer during a Dec. 14 contest against the Miami Heat. In addition, Hardaway scored 31 points during a Nov. 24 contest in Houston.
How he can help the Mavericks make a deep playoff run: If Hardaway can get into his comfort zone where he’s raining threes, there’s no telling how far the Mavs can advance in the playoffs. The Mavs are averaging 15.3 made 3-pointers per game this season, which is the second highest in the NBA. Part of that is because of Hardaway, who made a career-high nine baskets from downtown – one off the franchise record of 10 held by George McCloud and Wesley Matthews — during a Dec. 8 game against the Sacramento Kings. Hardaway is one of just six players in Mavs history to knock down at least nine 3-pointers in a game. When Hardaway gets into a scoring rhythm, that takes pressure off Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, and also opens up the floodgates for his other teammates to join in on the scoring parade. As a whole, Hardaway tallied 20 or more points in 17 games this season, and had four games where he scored 30 or more points.