The New York Knicks have been suffering through an extremely long season so far, but have begun turning things around over the course of the last month and a half. Carmelo Anthony has been playing extremely good basketball, and the rest of the team has begun picking up the pieces as well. Mike Woodson seems to have gotten the attention of his team, and the Knicks are closing in on locking up a playoff position.
What has been the big key to the Knicks’ resurgence lately? Quite simply, the X-factor has been rookie guard Tim Hardaway Jr. He has been the third scorer that the Knicks needed, and has stepped up big in games that J.R. Smith has played poorly.
As you can see by this shooting chart, Hardaway has been able to score the basketball from practically anywhere on the floor. He has been a key shooter off the bench, but has also gotten better at getting to the rim and to the line as the season has progressed. That being said, he could use some work on his playmaking ability for his teammates.
Hardaway has played in 75 games this season with the Knicks, averaging 10.1 points and 1.5 rebounds. He has averaged just 0.8 assists per game this season, which is something that he will certainly need to improve in to take the next step in his career. All that being said, his offensive prowess has been one of the main reasons that the Knicks are anywhere close to making the playoffs as the season comes down to the final few games.
It will be very interesting to see what happens here at the end of the season in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Atlanta Hawks are playing very poor basketball, and the Knicks are playing hot. As it stands right now, it appears that the Knicks will likely be able to take the eighth seed if they continue playing good basketball themselves. Atlanta quite simply doesn’t have enough left to hold off the Knicks if they continue winning games consistently.
Overall, Tim Hardaway Jr. has had a bigger impact than anyone in the Knicks’ front office could have expected. He has become a leader off the bench in his first season, and has shown the ability to score the ball at a high level. If the Knicks want to go anywhere in the postseason or even make the postseason, Hardaway is going to have to continue to step up in a big way.