Two weeks prior to training camp, Tim Hardaway Jr. took part in rookie orientation, led by the league’s reining scoring champ. This entry-level course did not take place in a class or conference room, it occurred in the perfect place for this type of learning experience.
Teaming up with and competing directly against Carmelo Anthony helped Hardaway gain a true understanding of what to expect in his first NBA training camp. The result of the 2-week experience was absolutely essential to ease the rookie transition.
“It’s very beneficial just to have veterans out here and teaching you what to do, teaching you the plays, and really getting you comfortable with the system and coaching staff. It was great for them to be here the first couple of weeks and it’s making the process a lot easier for me and the other rookies,” Hardaway explained.
There’s an interesting aspect to the evolution of an NBA player. From a first-year member of the club to a veteran, the responsibilities drastically change. At one point, you are learning from the top dogs and by the time you are at the pinnacle or near the end, you become the master, teaching the next stars of the league how to become professionals. This cycle is a vital part to maintaining the high level success of one of the most lucrative leagues in America.
Anthony understands there is a delicate balance and intends to help the rookie navigate the murky waters of the NBA, “I don’t want to guide him through anything, I want him to learn and have his own experiences but I’m just here to help him along the way and when things get bad just be there for him and hope that it doesn’t get bad. As a rookie, times will get hard, I know that and we’ve all been there, so I just want to be there for him, be there for CJ, be there for the rookies in general like I was looking for somebody to be there when I was a rookie.”
Hardaway owns a distinct advantage compared to most rookies entering year one. The former Michigan standout is the son of former NBA star point guard Tim Hardaway and the advice he can offer about playing in the league and surviving a rookie season is invaluable. However, there’s something to be said about a teammate that is regarded as one of the elite scorers in the NBA with six all-star appearances on his resume.
“With Melo, he’s just teaching me everything, making the process a lot easier,” Hardaway smiled. “We are always laughing and joking but at the same time he is making sure I get everything on point and make sure I’m ready for the season.”
In the early stages of the preseason, there’s plenty of optimism surrounding the athletic guard. Hardaway dropped 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter of his first NBA game and buried the go-ahead bucket with 8.2 seconds remaining in Wednesday night’s contest against the Celtics. The 21-year old is quickly gaining respect from his peers and the Knicks coaching staff due to his ability to run off screens, blast down the court in open floor opportunities, and sink the long ball along. He's also displaying a tremendous amount of maturity and poise.
After Hardaway’s second outing in Toronto, Anthony took notice of the potential from the New York rookie, “His confidence is growing and growing. Something I really like about him is he seems like he has a chip on his shoulder, I like that but it’s not a cockiness, it’s not an arrogance, it’s a confidence.”
Anthony is developing into a leader and his pupil is showing signs of a rotation player for this season and quite possibly a Knicks star of the future.