Draft Projection: No. 25: Los Angeles Clippers
Notes: Insider Only
Positives: Insider Only
Negatives: Insider Only
Summary: June 26 Update: Hardaway has been climbing draft boards the past few months thanks to stellar workouts and a reminder that he's one of the more polished players in the draft with good shooting ability, size and athleticism. It's his lack of upside that appears to be affecting his draft stock.
Quick fact: Hardaway Jr. scored 1.37 points per play in transition last season, the second-best rate in the Big Ten and 14th best in the nation (min. 75 plays).
June 25 Update: The Clippers are going for it and are going to need all of the help they can get. That might force them to take a veteran guard who can give them shooting and minutes. Hardaway is a coach's favorite, and I could see the Clippers thinking he'd make a great fit at No. 25.
June 24 Update: Hardaway Jr. has been helping himself in workouts, but it doesn't seem to be enough to move him out of the 20s. His draft night range is 7 to 27.
June 18 Update: The Nuggets are in danger of losing Andre Iguodala this summer after he opted to become a free agent. While Hardaway is a far cry from Iguodala, he's one of the more NBA-ready players in the draft and could step in immediately and along with Evan Fournier, help with some of the minutes used by Iggy.
June 10 Update: Hardaway has worked out for the Bulls, Bucks, Timberwolves and Hawks and has the Thunder and Nets coming up. He has had very positive feedback from a number of teams looking for an NBA-ready wing who can both shoot and defend. It looks like his range is anywhere in the mid to late first round.
May 20 Update: Hardaway Jr. has been hiding in plain sight for the past three years. Whether it was comparisons to his father or the fact he was surrounded by so much talent at Michigan the past two years, he's struggled to convince scouts he's a first rounder. I'm not so sure that's the case anymore.
His performance at the combine, shooting the ball in the athletic testing, and in Friday's live action 3-on-3's put him in the same groupings with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jamaal Franklin, Glen Rice Jr. and Allen Crabbe for the next 2-guard to come off the board after McLemore and Oladipo get drafted.
May 15 Update: Tim Hardaway Jr. hears the word "pedigree" all the time because of his NBA All-Star father. But Junior says his dad's advice isn't what you'd think.
"He said just go have fun, play for the love of the game," Hardaway told me after the workout. "Basketball is a game, and you should have fun doing what you do."
Hardaway showed that passion and more Tuesday. He was the best player on the floor for all two hours. He played with terrific intensity, nailed shots from all over the floor and played above the rim whenever he hit the paint. While he doesn't have his father's crossover, he handled the ball against Canaan and was able to get where he wanted on the floor. Hardaway has size, excellent leaping ability and a huge 7-foot wingspan for a shooting guard.
He has played great ever since he stepped foot in Ann Arbor, but he, too, has had a hard time convincing scouts that he should be a lock for the first round.
Hardaway isn't sure why. He played at an elite school against the best competition in college basketball. He acknowledged both Ben McLemore and Victor Oladipo as being higher on draft boards (and played against both players this season), but after those two, he feels he's right there.
"I feel like I played well against both of those guys," Hardaway said. "I feel I can play with anyone in the country."
Hardaway had 18 points on 8-for-16 shooting with just two turnovers in his first matchup with Oladipo. Oladipo had 15 points and three turnovers for Indiana. Hardaway had 11 points on 5-for-12 shooting in the second matchup.
And he had 10 points and five rebounds against McLemore and Kansas in the NCAA tournament.
Hardaway said both McLemore and Oladipo were a handful, but he would give the edge to Oladipo.
"He's impossible," Hardaway said. "McLemore is good, but if you take away his jumper, he's guardable. You just can't take anything away from Oladipo. He's trying to take it away from you. You can't lose track of him for one second. I really think that will happen in the NBA."
Will Hardaway join them as a first-round pick? Some teams have him in the late teens and early 20s. For Hardaway, it will be about convincing those other teams that he belongs in the same conversation as McLemore and Oladipo. If he plays like he did during the workout, Hardaway might be persuasive.
Apr 17 Update: Hardaway Jr. declared for the 2013 NBA Draft today. He was the second-leading scorer on the second-best college team in the country this year. He has an NBA pedigree and NBA athleticism. And he can shoot the ball and get to the basket. So why do scouts still have him as a second-round pick? Because, while Hardaway is good at a lot of things, he isn't elite at any one thing. At the next level, that has proven to be a problem, particularly for guards. Look for him to be a probable second-round pick.
Mar 20 Update: Hardaway has been great this season, but he's still struggling to work his way permanently into the second round. A strong tournament could really help him. He's been playing especially well lately and when he's taking good shots, he can be very difficult to stop.
Nov 25 Update: Hardaway wasn't considered a blue-chip prospect coming out of high school, but a solid freshman season put a number of scouts on notice. Hardaway could slash, he could shoot and he wasn't afraid. This season, he's cutting down on bad shots, playing with more confidence and he's grown an inch. In Maui he averaged 20 points and 4.7 rebounds per game and showed a lot of versatility.
I don't think he's going to join his father as a NBA All-Star someday -- he, ironically, lacks the handle for that. But he's looking more and more like a late first/early second-round prospect.
Aug 30 Update: Hardaway surprised a lot of scouts with a very good freshman campaign at Michigan and followed it up with a solid showing for Team USA in the under-19 Championships. If Hardaway can improve his shot selection as a sophomore, he could be in store for a big year.