Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Special to ZAGSBLOG CHICAGO — This year’s NBA draft class looks especially thin on shooters.
The lack of three-point specialists is Tim Hardway Jr.’s gain.
Hoping to solidify himself as one of the top long-range threats in the draft, Hardaway has showcased his jumper for NBA teams in workouts. Another strong showing in drills at last week’s Chicago Pre-Draft Combine greatly helped his stock.
ESPN’s Chad Ford bumped Hardaway up from No. 34 to No. 27 overall.
“I competed very well,” said Hardaway. “I gave it my all, didn’t take any plays or anything off in the drills. I tried to dominate everything I did. You got one or two chances to make a coach or GM happy, so you want to go out there and put in maximum effort while playing against these guys.”
In a group of shooting guards including Allen Crabbe, Archie Goodwin and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Hardaway shot the ball as well as anyone. The Michigan product’s success came as no surprise to him.
“You have to have that confidence,” Hardaway explained, “especially coming from a program where all we do is shoot. I’ve been in the gym constantly, working on my shot and trying to stay as consistent as possible. It felt really good out there.”
The 6-foot-6 Hardaway boasts the requisite size to play off-guard at the professional level. As a junior he averaged 14.5 points and shot 37 percent from three for the Wolverines, the national runner-up. His athleticism and potential as a defender makes him an intriguing commodity.
Teams including Atlanta, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Oklahoma have taken notice, sitting down with Hardaway for interviews. His three college seasons have Hardaway feeling more than prepared for the next level.
“I feel like I can definitely make an impact shooting wise,” he said. “I can also grab rebounds and push into transition, be a decision maker. A lot of pressure is always on the point guard to push, but if you can grab the rebound as a two you can get him out there to score as well.”
Throughout the draft preparation process, Hardaway has benefitted from his relationship with his father Tim — the former Miami Heat All-Star point guard. The elder Hardaway’s professional experience has been invaluable for his son.
“I can talk to him about anything now,” said Hardaway. “If I need help he’s one call away. It’s great to have a father like that. I just talked to him—he was like ‘Are you having fun?’ and said that’s all that matters. That’s been his advice since day one, and I’ll continue to do that.”
Hardaway chose Priority Sports and Agent Mark Bartelstein last month, citing his reputation working with “underdogs” and helping turn them into successful pros. Late-round selections like David Lee and Taj Gibson are some of Bartelstein’s top clients, and Hardaway hopes to follow that model.
He knows nothing will come easy.
“I’m not going to take the foot off the gas pedal at all,” said Hardway. “I’m going to keep on working. I feel like I still have a lot to prove and have to take that mentality into each workout from here on out.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.