Season in review
In his first full season as a Maverick, Tim Hardaway Jr. showed just how capable of a player he is. Hardaway Jr. finished third on the team in total scoring, only behind the stars of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. He averaged 15.8 points per game, but his biggest jump has been the improvements in his three-point shooting. Hardaway Jr. took 11.9 three-point attempts per 100 possessions this season, the most of his career. He made those shots 39.8 percent of the time, beating the previous career-high set in his rookie season by .035 percent.
After establishing himself in the starting lineup in late November, he began to make shots much more consistently. Hardaway Jr. made 204 three-point field goals this season, the second most in franchise history behind George McCloud’s 257 made in 1996.
Hardaway Jr. had four 30+ point games this season, but his performance against the Kings is my personal favorite. He made a season-high 9-of-12 three pointers and scored 29 points in the game.
Hardaway Jr. is currently the second highest paid player on the Mavericks. This off-season he will have to make the decision to opt-into his player option or test the free agency market. His player option is worth $18,975,000, which is $825,000 more than he made this past season.
There have not been any leaks indicating what decision Hardaway Jr. is leaning towards. The NBA’s salary cap is likely going to take a hit due to the loss of revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic, but that may not occur next season.
Given this level of uncertainty on the market paired with how effective he was this past season, it seems reasonable to assume he’ll opt in to his player option. The only scenarios where he could opt out is if he and his agent see a bigger money opportunity on the market, or if there is some internal strife with his role as a Maverick (there is no indication of that at this point).
There is also the possibility that the Mavericks test his value on the trade block. When a player is only on a one-year contract, their value is significantly less than it would be if they were secured long-term. Still, there’s a good possibility that multiple teams could be eyeing him. Hardaway Jr. is the kind of player that can be plugged into any system and contribute. If there is a team that feels they need some shooting to make a championship push, Hardaway Jr. would be a great place to start.
If he’s still a Maverick next season — which is what I personally hope happens (barring a good trade deal) — expect plenty of shooting. I’d like to see him become a better finisher at the rim and improve his understanding of the Dallas defensive system. Still, Hardaway Jr. has seemed to be a seamless fit into Rick Calisle’s five-man out offense.