Friday, July 12, 2013
Hardaway Jr. stars in summer opener
By Jared Zwerling
LAS VEGAS -- Tim Hardaway Jr. was the 24th pick in last month's NBA draft, but on Friday his game was at the top among rookies in attendance.
After scoring the first points of the Knicks' first summer league game -- a jump shot down the baseline -- he also had the first bucket of the second half -- another jumper.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 13 points in his first summer league game.
In the end, although the Pelicans escaped with the win, 77-72, Hardaway Jr. totaled a team-high 13 points on 4-for-12 shooting. He also had five rebounds, three assists and one steal, showing his all-around versatility.
"He does a good job of just letting the game come to him. He doesn't really force much," Iman Shumpert said afterward. "He's really good with the step back. He can finish in the lane, so I really like his game. I'm excited for him."
A key quality about Hardaway Jr. is that he plays with a lot of confidence, both in his dribble and quick-release shot all the way out to deep 3-point range. Even off of a steal or defensive rebound, there is no hesitation in his transition game.
"I was very comfortable [today]," he said. "The shots in the second half were there; I just didn't knock it down. I'll get better as the process continues. I played in front of 75,000 people not many months ago. No big deal."
Hardaway Jr. started in the backcourt alongside Iman Shumpert, and the 6-6 guard thought it was a great pairing.
"We've got great chemistry going," Hardaway Jr. said. "We're doing a great job reading and playing off each other. It's great having a veteran to get through the process."
So where does Hardaway Jr. think he has to improve?
"Defensively, I have to be a lot better, making plays for teammates," he said. "But when shots weren't falling, I still kept my head up, still confident. ... It was a good showing. I need to be a lot better; I know that. It's the first game, playing with guys for the first time for three days."
TOURE TURNS IT UP AT POINT: Backup point guard Toure Murry is someone to watch this summer. In fact, a player source said the Knicks expressed an interest in him this past D-League season because of his ability to defend and make plays in transition. With the Knicks putting a great emphasis on running, Murry, who had 11 points in only 12 minutes on Friday, finished a few breakaway plays with scoring and passing. His biggest area of improvement is in pick-and-rolls.
After the game, ESPNNewYork.com caught up with Murry.
What's key for you in the pick-and-roll game?
"You've got to read everybody. You've got to read the big man coming out [of a screen]. My main thing is be aggressive coming off the screen first and then look for the second option."
Last season, the Knicks ranked last in the league in fast-break points per game (8.8). Do you think you can help in that area?
"Definitely. All season in the D-League, that was our offense -- pushing the ball. I feel like the Knicks really enjoyed that and they took that upon themselves to bring me to summer league. I feel like I did pretty good today."
They want to add a point guard or two. Does that provide extra motivation for you?
"Definitely it's motivation. Any time there's an open spot, it's up for grabs. My main thing is just go out there every second and play as hard as I can, and try to take that spot. I'll leave it up to the coaching staff if they want me to come here, and I'll be willing to come."