4. Perimeter defense
In a surprising turn, Hardaway Jr. has not only defied expectations as a scorer but has also quietly dismantled the stereotype of him as a lackadaisical defender. Often labeled as a potentially lazy defender earlier in his career, he has showcased a significant improvement in his perimeter defense.
While offensive prowess tends to dominate discussions around his game, Hardaway Jr.'s commitment to his defensive skills has become an unspoken yet valued aspect of his contribution to the team. It's an evolution in his game that often goes unnoticed, but one that has undoubtedly added a valuable dimension to his overall performance on the court.
Head coach Jason Kidd talked a lot about the guys buying in, and I believe one of those guys would be Hardaway Jr., who is very capable on the defensive end and has the athletic ability to succeed on that end. Defense in the NBA is more about mentality than it is about ability, and the first step is the want to. And Hardaway Jr. has wanted to this season.
He is one of the league leaders in drawn charges this season, and puts his body on the floor for his teammates on a nightly basis.
The difference between Hardaway Jr. being a Maverick versus being dangled in trade talks is the effort he presents on defense throughout the rest of the year. Buying into a defensive scheme allows Tim to mold into the 3-and-D player the modern NBA admires.