Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we pose a question to a rotating panel of ESPN fantasy basketball experts to gauge their thoughts on a hot topic. Today's contributors are ESPN Fantasy's Joe Kaiser and Kyle Soppe, plus ESPN NBA writer Ohm Youngmisuk.
Over the past month, Tim Hardaway Jr. has averaged 18.1 PPG, 2.4 3PPG, 47.3 FG% and 82.1 FT%. He is available in nearly two-thirds of ESPN leagues. Is there any reason to believe he will not maintain this pace the rest of the way? How do you view him as a keeper for next season and beyond?
Joe Kaiser: As a scorer, 3-point threat and high-percentage free throw shooter, Hardaway is the real deal, and I think there's a good chance he'll be able to maintain something close to his current numbers as long as he gets the same amount of minutes. The one area I question is field goal percentage, since he has shot just 42.3 percent through 263 NBA games. That's a number that will likely regress, which could also cost him a few points per game.
Hardaway's rise this season is impressive, but as a fantasy player, he's off my keeper radar because his skill set is easy to duplicate. If you're keeping Hardaway, you have to ask yourself if you'd keep someone like J.J. Redick, who has put up similar numbers for many years while being a nonfactor in rebounds, assists and steals, just as Hardaway is this season. The answer in almost every league is "no" to Redick, and the same is true for Atlanta's young scorer.
Ohm Youngmisuk: When the Knicks traded Hardaway, I felt the Hawks got a terrific option to groom to replace Kyle Korver. Hardaway could be streaky and a defensive liability but could shoot, has great size, decent athleticism and seemed like a nice fit in coach Mike Budenholzer's system. With Korver traded away, Hardaway has found his role and consistency, scoring in double figures in 18 straight games.
He has been better than Kent Bazemore, and the Hawks need to continue to develop him. So I see him being able to continue to score in double figures with a few bumps along the way and is a fringe keeper option.
Kyle Soppe: Nope, no reason at all to think that this production is fluky. His playing time continues to spike (21 minutes per game over his first 21 games this season, 24.5 over his next 20 games, and 31.7 over his last 20), and none of his shooting metrics suggest regression. In fact, I'd argue that the opposite is true.
The soon-to-be 25-year-old has honed his perimeter shooting, but his field goal percentage inside of 16 feet has dropped 4.6 percentage points from last season. Hardaway's usage from distance isn't likely to diminish with the Hawks sorely need his production, as they rank in the bottom half of the league in both 3FGA and 3FG%. I'll take my chances on him converting "easier" shots at the rate he did last season.
Now, Hardaway offers little help in nonscoring categories, so keep your expectations in check, but if you are a Kevin Durant owner scrambling for scoring or just generally lack bucket-getters, Hardaway is as viable an option as you will find on your waiver wire.