Offense: Hardaway is a pure scorer who’s ability to put the ball in the hoop will be his main skill moving forward. In this department, his biggest strength is his jumper, which is one of the purest in college basketball.
Hardaway is lights out with his feet set, and has an incredibly consistent release. He gets good rotation, stemming from a fantastic follow through and good elevation, and is one of the best I have seen at keeping a straight vertical plane throughout his shooting motion.
Hardaway is almost as effective of a shooter when coming off screens, as he is able to turn his hips and face up incredibly quickly, especially given his relative lack of top-end lateral quickness. He has tremendous range and an NBA mindset; he will always get his shots, and has a great ability to catch fire.
He shoots 39% from 3, which is good but not great for a guy labeled as “lights out.” He has very good length for a guy who projects to be a 2-guard at the next level, and this along with his quality release should allow Hardaway to get his shot off consistently moving forward.
Hardaway is actually less consistent from inside the arc than from beyond it, and has a tendency to short-arm in-between shots. This season he took almost as many 3’s per game (5) as 2’s (7), so this is not much of an issue at Michigan, but he will need to improve his in-between game moving forward
The part of Hardaway’s game that has improved the most is his ability to get to the rim, and finish under control once there. He is never going to blow anyone away with his athleticism, but the mere threat of his jumper opens up driving lanes for Hardaway, who has a long first step and attacks the rim well.
He is still an inconsistent finisher through contact, but has significantly improved his touch around the rim since his freshman year. He has put on some weight while at Michigan, but scouts would like to see him add another 10-15 pounds, as he still seems to shy away from contact at the rim, especially when going at bigger defenders.
Hardaway still struggles with tunnel vision on his drives, and his biggest offensive issue moving forward may be his lack of proven ability to make plays for others. He averages 2.3 assists per game, not a bad number for a shooting wing playing alongside Trey Burke, but most of these come on swing passes or similar simple plays, rather than Hardaway actually creating shots for teammates. He must prove he can be more than just a spot-up shooter moving forward.
As previously mentioned, Hardaway comes off screens very well, and always keeps himself on balance and ready to rise up and shoot. He spaces the floor well, unsurprising given his deep range, and has a good understanding of the overall team spacing and offensive concepts.
- Pure shooter; unquestioned NBA range, quick release, always on balance
- Great understanding of spacing
- Improving on the dribble-drive
- What else can he do at an NBA level
- Lacks ability to facilitate at this point
- Inconsistent finisher; occasionally shies away from contact at the rim
Defense: Hardaway has some potential on the defensive end, but in general has developed much more slowly on this side of the ball than offensively. He has good athleticism and decent quickness, but struggles to get down in his stance, partly due to his long limbs.
Especially in on-ball situations, Hardaway falls into a habit of trying too hard to defend with his arms and hands; this is largely due to his lack of high-level lateral quickness. This makes him vulnerable in isolations on the perimeter, an issue moving forward.
Hardaway’s length (6’7 wingspan, 6’6 frame) allows him to be very versatile as a backcourt defender; this versatility allows the Wolverine wings to switch most screens, and he will bring a similar type of flexibility to teams at the next level.
Hardaway is still learning how to defend, and at times seems to lack confidence in his decision-making. This is somewhat concerning for an upperclassman, but he has improved enough to earn the trust of the coaching staff much more than in either of his first two years, often getting the opponent’s best perimeter playmaker in defensive assignments.
He shows good hustle and a desire to defend, and works hard despite his struggle to get down in a defensive stance. He has quick, long strides that allow him to get back in defensive transition, but struggles to consistently beat opponents to a spot. He is a willing charge-taker, but cannot really adjust to opponents’ changes in direction.
Hardaway is generally comfortable with physicality, but gets pushed around on the defensive end a bit by stronger perimeter players. His 4.6 rebounds per game are a little misleading; scouts would like to see a bit more out of Hardaway in this department, as many of these boards are relatively uncontested, and Hardaway is often the 2nd biggest player on the floor for Michigan.
Hardaway understands his length and uses it very well to contest shots and close out. He has improved his control level on these closeouts, and no longer commits the silly jump-shooting fouls he was prone to early in his college career. He is still inconsistent in his box-outs, but has likewise improved his ability to establish and maintain position. He still has a ways to go in this department, and his overall improvement in physicality will be something to track moving forward.
- Length at the guard position
- Versatile defender
- Still learning how to defend; concerning from an upperclassman
- Does not move his feet quickly enough in on-ball situations, especially isolation
- Tentative at times; not confident in his decision making
Overall:Hardaway was clearly coached the right way growing up, and is very fundamentally sounds especially on the offensive end. He is one of the best shooters in the country, and has unquestioned NBA range combined with an NBA-level potential to catch fire.
Hardaway will still need to prove he can be an effective enough facilitator to make plays when his shot is not falling, but has a quick and consistent enough release that he rarely risks having his shot taken away by opponents, despite his lack of elite level athleticism.
Defensively, Hardaway has developed much more slowly than on the offensive end, but he uses his length well on the perimeter and is very versatile, possessing the ability to switch most perimeter screens and guard either the 2 or 3. He lacks top-end lateral quickness, but has earned the trust of John Beilein and his coaching staff, a good sign moving forward.