The Dallas Mavericks got their best performance of the season from several different players in the obliteration of the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, but one that stuck out was Tim Hardaway Jr.
At the beginning of the season, Rick Carlisle made it clear that the Dallas Mavericks would be using a number of different starting lineups in search of either one that really clicks together or just basing it all on matchups. Only 14 games into the season, both of these scenarios appear to be true.
It appears for the most part that Dallas has settled into a regular starting five of Luka Doncic, Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, Kristaps Porzingis and Dwight Powell. This unit has started together in five of the 14 games, still giving us a very small sample size, but is easily the most frequently used first lineup.
That said, the best performance the Mavs have seen from their starters probably came last game against the Golden State Warriors. It may be unfair to take anything from that game as a trend, but one thing stuck out that we really haven’t seen at all this year. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored significant points and shot the ball very efficiently.
What was the difference between this game and the 13 games prior to it? This is the only game so far this year that Tim Hardaway has been in the starting lineup. Again, obviously this needs to be taken with a small grain of salt considering the fact that the Mavericks were playing the worst defense in the league, but the timing of THJ’s best performance also makes sense.
Hardaway is used to being in the starting lineup. In the two seasons prior to this one, Hardaway started in 117 of a possible 122 games. Those two seasons made up the best ball of his career up to this point and is part of the reason he was given so much money.
It is not unheard of for players to thrive in the starting lineup and struggle off the bench. Players grow so accustomed to their warmup routine and their preparation for games that even the slightest bit of change can throw them. Some people really struggle going from warmups to sitting and then trying to jump right into a game and be effective.
The Mavs really should consider moving Hardaway into the starting lineup. Obviously one good game is not enough reason to make this move permanently, but that one good game could be a sign for what has been missing from his play so far this year. It could be worthwhile to at least play him there a couple more times in the coming games just to see if a consistent result is possible.
Seth Curry has not been particularly strong in his starts either. He hasn’t been bad, but is not the offensive presence that we were hoping for so far. If Dallas can reinvigorate Hardaway, one of the better offensive players on the team, it could really help them out.
It would be really nice if the Mavs could get that level of production from Hardaway more regularly, especially if it could come off the bench. If not, though, the team needs to find the best way to get him involved. That might just be a permanent starting spot.