In this series, I'm looking to highlight the play of under-the-radar players who will be free agents in the 2021 offseason. These are players that could turn their current play this season into big paydays in the offseason. The next player of the series is Dallas Mavericks' swingman Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Dallas Mavericks are currently 37-28 and in 5th place in the West. They have come on strong as of late, having won 7 of their last 10 games. The team is currently posting a 114.3 offensive rating and 112.2 defensive rating, giving them a net rating of 2.1 - good for 8th best in the league. The Mavs have been surging and are looking to stay out of the play-in games.
One of the reasons for the Mavericks strong play, outside of Luka Doncic, has been the solid production of Tim Hardaway Jr. On the season, THJ averages 16.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game on 44/38.8/79.6 shooting splits, per NBA.com. He started the season as a starter, but embraced a full-time role coming off the bench in early February as a shakeup to get the team off its rough stretch. Hardaway's production has not dropped off at all since moving to the bench, as he has served as the focal point of the offense with Doncic off the court and the bench unit in. He's been especially productive recently, putting up games of 36 and 42 points in two of his last three.
Hardaway Jr. is shooting 39% from three while taking 7.5 threes per game puts him in an elite category of shooters with a mix of strong efficiency and high volume attempts, among names like Paul George, Duncan Robinson, Joe Harris and Zach Lavine. He has served as a lethal catch-and-shoot threat alongside Luka Doncic. THJ is putting up 5.3 catch-and-shoot threes per game and hitting them at a 40.5% clip, tenth highest percentage in the league among players with the same or higher volume per NBA.com. He has the ability to hit threes off the catch:
Off movement running off of screens:
And out of the dribble handoff:
-All of these are key shooting skills for any floor spacing off-guard/wing to have and are pivotal next to a ball-dominant lead-guard like Luka Doncic.
On the defensive side of the ball, THJ has good size for his position at 6'6" and is serviceable on that end. Hardaway Jr. has proven to be a pivotal role player for the Mavericks that they have come to rely on for heavy bench production.
The Positional Market
The market for the shooting guard position is one of the few positions with a deep and talented player pool. Some of the major names that will be on the market at the SG position are: Demar Derozan, Victor Oladipo, Norman Powell, Duncan Robinson, Josh Richardson, Evan Fournier, Gary Trent Jr., Josh Hart, etc. Now, some of these names figure to re-sign with their current teams. Even still, there will be competition to get the best deals in the shooting guard market this offseason.
There are a plethora of teams that could use Tim Hardaway Jr's shooting services next year and in the future. His ability to play off-the-ball and stretch the floor is an ever increasingly important skill to have. Both cap space and non-cap space teams should take a look at bringing THJ into town.
- Dallas Mavericks: If its not broke don't fix it. The Mavericks have very much enjoyed the shooting presence that Hardaway Jr. has provided and should look to bring him back at a quality number.
- Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies could really benefit by bringing in a shooter of Hardaway Jrs caliber that you can either start alongside Ja Morant or bring off the bench.
- Phoenix Suns: The Suns could use a third guard that is a knock down shooter that can play off of CP3 and Devin Booker. THJ could be an upgrade over the role that Langston Galloway/E'twaun Moore are currently filling.
- Miami Heat: The Heat already have two upcoming free agents at the same position as THJ in Duncan Robinson and Victor Oladipo. But if Oladipo can't get healthy and Robinson commands a large offer sheet this offseason, then the Heat could be on the market for some shooting on the wing.
It will be interesting to see what Kind of deal Hardaway Jr will get in the offseason. Shooting has been paid at a premium recently, although some of the teams that could use him most will only be able to offer the Mid-Level Exception, so somewhere in the range of 4 years 44 million. Dallas could bring THJ back at whatever number they want, but also have the free agency of Josh Richardson, who will probably opt out of his player option. Bringing Hardaway Jr back would ultimately burn most of their cap space as well. The most logical deal for him is probably taking a multi-year deal at the mid-level exception, but a team could become infatuated with his hot three-point shooting and come in with a bigger deal.
Jordan Clarkson: 4 year $52 million
Seth Curry: 4 year $32 million
Danny Green: 2 year $30 million
Terrence Ross: 4 year $54 million
Lou Williams: 3 year $24 million
Nick Thoreson is a young professional working in finance who is passionate about the NBA and especially all things salary cap related.