Season in review
After missing the second half of last season, Tim Hardaway Jr. returned to the Dallas Mavericks this year and stepped right back into the role he’s played for the last four and a half years. Hardaway is a shooting guard with a capital S. He has his flaws, but make no mistake, the man can shoot a basketball.
The thing that frustrates Mavericks fans, and I’m sure the Mavericks themselves, is the lack of consistency. Hardaway is literally just as likely to go 0-for-7 from behind the arc as he is to go 6-for-11 and erupt for 28 points. Hardaway had 19 games last season where he hit one or fewer 3-pointers. He had 18 games where he made five or more threes.
It can be maddening to see Hardaway score zero points the game after he scored 28, but he’s always been a streaky shooter, and that’s never going to change. The Mavericks definitely need someone on the perimeter who can be a more consistent scorer, and do more than just shoot threes. Hardaway posted the lowest field goal percentage on two-point attempts (.431 percent) last season.
The problem, as it has been with the Mavericks the last few seasons, is the Mavericks’ shallow depth has forced Hardaway into a more important role than he should have. He’s a gunner who would be best coming off the bench and torching defenses from deep. If his shot is falling, he gets more minutes. If it’s not, he’s pulled for someone who with a more three-dimensional game. But as the roster is built, Hardaway has to play almost 30 minutes a game whether he’s hitting shots or not. And that’s a flaw due to the roster, not Hardaway.
In the last week of the Mavericks’ season, Hardaway erupted for 31 points against the Miami Heat. It was a must-win game for Dallas, as so many were down the stretch, and though the Mavericks ended up losing, it wasn’t because of Hardaway. He also dished out seven assists and grabbed six rebounds. It was the type of all-around game you don’t usually see from shooters like Hardaway.
Hardaway has two years remaining on the four-year contract he signed back in 2021. His contract is very team-friendly, as the value descends each year. He’s set to make $17.8 million in 2023-24, and $16.1 million in 2024-25.
The Mavericks have some flexibility when it comes to Hardaway. He fits well with Luka Doncic, whether it’s alongside the Mavericks’ superstar or providing firepower off the bench with Doncic sits. But with a good contract and the ability to shoot, something every team needs, Hardaway would be valuable in a trade, whether as part of a package or on his own. It’s possible Hardaway returns to the same role with Dallas next season, but could just as easily suiting up for some other franchise. We won’t know until June at the earliest.
Hardaway isn’t multifaceted on offense, but the one thing he does (shooting), he does exceptionally well. He shot the hell out of the ball for the Mavericks this season, and it’s something they needed desperately. Hardaway has never been a great defender, though he has it in him in spurts. He’s decent on ball, but falls asleep at times and loses his man off ball. Hardaway just wrapped up his 11th season in the NBA. He isn’t changing, so there’s not going to be some vast improvement over the summer. But he’s a role player the Mavericks (or some other contender) can use to make a run next year.