Dallas Mavericks wing Tim Hardaway Jr. has excelled in his new role this season. After starting in more than half his appearances over the past five seasons, Hardaway Jr. has yet to open the game with the starters.
Although the Dallas sharpshooter has received less playing time this year off the bench, he's made the most of his time. In 27.2 minutes per game, Hardaway Jr. is averaging 16.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.4 3-pointers per game. He paces the entire league in bench points per game.
Hardaway Jr. has played himself right into the mix for the Sixth Man of the Year award. If Hardaway Jr. were to win the award, he'd be the first Maverick since Jason "The Jet" Terry did so in the 2009 season.
Dallas' Tim Hardaway Jr. compares himself to Mavericks legend
The Dallas swingman is certainly aware of Terry's contributions. Last night, coming off a 17-point performance, Hardaway Jr. answered our own Noah Weber's question at the podium about his role as the Mavs' sixth man. Here, he alluded to the importance of the role and mentioned Terry's past successes.
The Jet was, and is still, one of the most beloved Mavericks. Playing alongside franchise icon, Dirk Nowitzki, Terry consistently brought excellent offense off the bench for the Mavs. Despite playing a sixth-man role, Terry happened to be the second-best player on the roster throughout the late 2010s.
In the 2008-09 season, Terry averaged 19.6 points, 3.4 assists, and 2.3 3-pointers per game. The move to the bench proved to be a good one for Dallas, as the Mavericks won their first championship in franchise history just two years later.
Before winning the Sixth Man of the Year award, Terry started for Dallas. After a trade to the Mavericks in 2004, the Jet appeared in the starting lineup for four seasons before being relegated to a bench.
Similar to Hardaway Jr., Terry excelled in his new role as a sixth man. No longer tasked with defending a starting guard or taking a backseat on offense. Hardaway Jr. and Terry both were granted the opportunity to pilot the second-unit, while also storing the usual energy given on the defensive end when defending starters.
Mavs fans are certainly happy to witness Hardaway Jr.'s progression this season. His contributions are key to the Mavs' successes. Furthermore, his Terry reference is the icing on the cake.
For all things Mavericks, we'll continue to have you updated here. Also, follow along to keep up with Hardaway Jr.'s journey as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate.