Friday, April 19

The 1 Mavs Player With Most To Prove After 2022 All-Star Break

The Dallas Mavericks are having a good season. In the incredibly volatile Western Conference, they are occupying the 5th spot, with a 35-24 record. They are one and a half games up on the 6th spot and four games ahead of the 7th spot and the play-in tournament. The Mavs pulled off a huge deal on the 2022 NBA Trade Deadline. They dealt Kristaps Porzingis to the Washington Wizards. In return, they got Davis Bertans and Spencer Dinwiddie, so it will be interesting to see what they do by the end of the regular season. Still, one player has a chip on his shoulder coming into the season. Here is one Mavs player with the most to prove after the 2022 All-Star break.

One Mavs player with most to prove 

This player is, of course, Tim Hardaway Jr. The former Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks player has been struggling this year. Although he still averages a solid 14.4 points per game, he is posting abysmal splits of 39.4/33.6/75.7. His free throw numbers are especially poor and are actually the worst in his career.

Hardaway Jr. was never known as a great three-point shooter, but the 33.6% is still worse than most seasons in his career. His 39.4% clip from the field is truly bad and Hardaway Jr. needs to get better for the Mavericks to compete.

What makes this situation even worse is that the Mavs really need him. After trading away Porzingis, Dallas has two more pieces that are not elite players like Porzingis, rather complementary parts. Due to this, all parts of the squad need to be better in the second half of the season and while Bertans and Dinwiddie will be of some help, it will be on the back of Hardaway to really step up.

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Unfortunately for Hardaway, he recently suffered a foot fracture and just had surgery. There is no timetable for his return but as soon as he comes back, he needs to prove that he can contribute.

Hardaway just finished a season averaging 16.6 points per game on 39.1% shooting from three, which he improved to 17.0 points and 40.4% from three in the playoffs. Even though it was criticized by many, Hardaway then got a huge contract extension from the Mavericks, basically financially tying him to the team.

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This is very important to mention. That means that the Mavs will keep Hardaway regardless of how poorly he play this season. In these circumstances, many have already written off Dallas as title contenders as long as Hardaway is the second main guy, behind Luka Doncic. Due to this, Hardaway, as a competitor, should feel the need to show the world why he is still a player worth the $75 million investment over four years.

Now that Porzingis is out of town, more shots will open up for other players. Some of them will be taken over by Dinwiddie and Bertans. But the Mavs will still run their offense through Doncic and Hardaway, when Hardaway returns from his injury.

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Up until this point, Hardaway Jr. shot just 12.6 attempts per game, which is good enough for fourth-most in the team, behind Doncic, Porzingis, and Jalen Brunson. With Porzingis’ 14.9 shots per game gone, Hardaway should see a jump when he does come back.

Hardaway runs the risk of completely falling out of the rotation. Obviously, with his paycheck, he will always be there around the squad, but he is risking losing a ton of his weight offensively. He generally does not contribute to the defensive side of the ball, so his offensive game is what is keeping him on the squad. If he continues the poor form after coming back from injury, the pecking order of the Mavs will be completely different come playoff time. Of course, he would still be paid, but at 29 and just coming into his prime, the competitor side of Hardaway would not be enjoying time locked to the bench in some important moments for his squad.

Other players on the Mavs also have a lot to prove. Reggie Bullock needs to regain his form, Dinwiddie needs to develop some consistency, while Bertans must show that he can still shoot. Yet, neither one of these nor the other guys on the roster have so much to prove as Tim Hardaway does.

Jazz, Donovan Mitchell

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