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Mavs Preseason Profile: Tim Hardaway Jr.’s Return Provides Bench Spark

Even before Tim Hardaway Jr.’s season ended with foot surgery, he wasn’t playing up to his standards. The Dallas Mavericks hope he will bounce back in a big way this year.

Although Tim Hardaway Jr. didn’t have a great 2021-22 season before having it come to an end with foot surgery in January, the Dallas Mavericks could’ve still benefited from having him on the roster for their Western Conference Finals run.

As good as the Mavs were in the first two rounds of the playoffs, they weren’t able to keep it going against the Warriors as they simply ran out of gas. The moment was too big for guys like Josh Green and Frank Ntilikina, and having Hardaway as an option could’ve potentially extended the series past five games.

More than four months later, Hardaway is healthy again and hoping for a big bounce-back season.

2021-22 Season Review

Hardaway had a tough time fitting in coach Jason Kidd’s system last season. Although he averaged 14.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 29.6 minutes per game, he only shot 39.4 percent overall and 33.6 percent on 3s. Those percentages were the worst for Hardaway’s Mavs tenure so far.

There were a lot of factors that could explain why Hardaway struggled the way he did, including the coaching change, the NBA implementing a new basketball and league protocols for COVID-19. Whatever the reasons were, though, it feels like last season was more of an outlier for Hardaway based on how he played from 2019-2021 — play that netted him a four-year, $72 million contract last year.

2022-23 Season Preview

After being sidelined since late-January, Hardaway is eager to get things rolling this season as the Mavs look to build on last year’s success. He will start the year in a bench role alongside big man Christian Wood.

“All I can say is I’m excited and very happy to be able to go out and compete,” said Hardaway.

Looking back, Hardaway thinks his injury could’ve been a blessing in disguise, as he was able to learn more about what Kidd and his staff want by watching the games in street clothes.

“Just hearing what the coaches are talking about on the sidelines and where their mindsets are going for each and every game, after the game … I think it helped me out tremendously knowing what they need me to do in order for me to go out there and succeed and help the team,” said Hardaway.

With the new season less than three weeks away, Hardaway looks great physically, and he put on a show at the Mavs’ Fan Jam on Saturday by scoring 20 points on six made 3-pointers. Hopefully, for the Mavs’ sake, that’s a good sign for things to come this year.

Check out our other Mavs preseason player profiles you might have missed so far:

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