Dallas Mavericks veteran wing Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 31 points during a huge victory over the conference rival Houston Rockets on Sunday.
After joining the team last season as part of the trade that sent star big man Kristaps Porzingis from the New York Knicks to the Mavericks, Hardaway was sidelined for the final 11 games of the 2018-19 season due to injury that required surgery. But after his recent hot streak, the wing has been named to the starting lineup for Dallas.
This is especially good news because Hardaway has been very impactful when on the court with Luka Doncic so far this season.
The former University of Michigan star has connected on 23 three-pointers during the 206 minutes he has played with the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year, including 16 long-rate shots assisted by Doncic. In fact, nearly half of the three’s Hardaway has made this year have been assisted by the 20-year-old Slovenian superstar.
Dallas has outscored opponents by a ridiculously dominant 25.9 points per 100 possessions during those minutes, the best net rating in the league (!) among all two-man lineups that have played at least 150 minutes together.
During their victory over the Rockets, Hardaway made his presence known as a spot-up threat from downtown. Considering the amount of attention that defenses must provide on Doncic, it has been important for the wing to find a niche on the perimeter and fire off the catch from his star teammate.
Hardaway is averaging 1.46 points per possession on spot-up attempts, per Synergy, which currently ranks in the 97th percentile. There are currently 140 players who have had 35 possessions as a spot-up shooter but none have been more efficient than Hardaway has been thus far.
Meanwhile, the Dallas wing is producing 5.3 points per game as a spot-up shooter. That trails only five players in the NBA, though all of them have had more possessions finished on offense.
Considering that Hardaway has only started 3 of 16 games for the Mavericks, we determined what his production would likely resemble if he were to play first-unit minutes.
Based on these calculations, only San Antonio Spurs guard Bryn Forbes has been more productive as a spot-up shooter in 2019-20.
This is an especially notable improvement for him considering last season, among the 61 players who had as many opportunities shooting off the catch, only two had a worse three-point percentage than Hardaway.
Moving forward if the Mavericks continue to be in playoff contention, they will need Hardaway to keep up his hot hand from the three-point line. But with the remarkable success of Doncic and how much attention he draws from his defenders, that is far from out of the question.