Dienhart: Hardaway Jr. makes 'curious' decision

First, it was Trey Burke declaring for the NBA draft. Wednesday, it was Michigan teammate Tim Hardaway Jr. making his future plans known.

Hardaway’s decision to go pro is a more curious one, when you consider he’s projected by many to be a second-round selection. At best, he could slip into the late first round. Bottom line: Hardaway is a role player—at best—who always likely will have to fight for a roster spot.

For what it’s worth, here’s a look at where a couple mock drafts have Hardaway Jr. going:

[ RELATED: View 2013 NBA Draft Big Ten early entrants ]

No doubt, the 6-6 junior, who averaged 14.5 points and 4.7 rebounds, is an excellent shooter who has nice length and works to get open. But he’s a bit of a one-trick pony. And the rail-thin off-guard can be incredibly streaky. To wit: In the last four games of the NCAA tourney when the spotlight burned brightest and the competition stiffened (vs. Kansas, Florida, Syracuse, Louisville), Hardaway hit just 5-of-22 from 3-point range (23 percent). He went 0-for-4 in the title game loss vs. Louisville.

Michigan vs. KansasIf Hardaway is not shooting well, he brings little else to the table. He isn’t an adept ball handler, struggles to create his own shot and is spotty on defense. He also doesn’t get to the free-throw line often enough. The pros are filled with players like Tim Hardaway Jr., many of whom do more than him and shoot more consistently than him.

Regardless, Hardaway—who this last season shot a career-best 43 percent overall and 37 percent from beyond the arc–is coming out, trying to join father Tim Hardaway as an NBA player.

So, what does Hardaway’s loss mean for Michigan next season? Not too much. Yes, Burke and his ultra-quick playmaking skills will be missed. But Hardaway’s shooting acumen can be replaced by players like Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas, Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert. Touted incoming freshmen Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin also figure to contribute as shooters.

However, Hardaway’s absence will be amplified if Robinson opts to turn pro after his strong freshman season. In addition to Robinson perhaps leaving, fellow freshman Mitch McGary also is weighing his options. If Robinson and McGary bolt along with Burke and Hardaway, the Wolverines may be just a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team next season.

In 2011-12, Hardaway helped Michigan win a share of its first Big Ten title since 1985-86. Even better: Hardaway helped Michigan finish 31-8 (12-6 Big Ten) and reach its first Final Four since 1993 this past season.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Show Comments (9 Comments)
Reality Check on 4/17/2013 @ 3:27pm EDT Said:

I blame the Spartan fans and Doug in partcular for all of this,

jkon on 4/17/2013 @ 4:49pm EDT Said:

bye bye

Delmar Jones on 4/17/2013 @ 4:56pm EDT Said:

Hardaway Jr.as you said won’t be miss by Michigan and I hope that Robinson 3 doesn’t make the same mistake and opts to stay in school. To many of these kids are leaving school for NBA draft and as you say there’s a lot of player who have know more game than Hardaway and will probably only be a row player a best. I wish the kid well.

Reality check on 4/17/2013 @ 8:56pm EDT Said:

This has been a hard week for me Rumeal Robinson was not allowed to attend the game and that was unfair, the referees stole the game and that was unfair

Doug on 4/17/2013 @ 9:27pm EDT Said:

Thanks Mark. I’m glad he’s leaving cause all they did was show his dad every single game. His stock was higher last year. We’ll see how good those players Tom listed are without having Burke get them open shots.

Doug on 4/18/2013 @ 10:39am EDT Said:

Hey Mark, if Rumeal didn’t try to scam a bunch of people, he wouldn’t be in a federal prison right now. I still like the 89 team, good tough basketball players compared to the unfab 5. Blame the refs though, it’s the Michigan way.

Doug on 4/18/2013 @ 10:41am EDT Said:

Mark, you went against your word already, you said you wouldn’t post till the fall, stick around, I like arguing with you.

Reality Check on 4/18/2013 @ 2:14pm EDT Said:

How do you know this stuff, is Steve Smith feeding MSU fans information again????

Reality Check on 4/18/2013 @ 2:16pm EDT Said:

How do you know this stuff, is someone on the inside here feeding MSU fans information?????