Hardaway, Jr. Main Attraction at Friday's Workout

by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor

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Hardaway, Jr. Main Attraction at Friday's Workout

by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness

June 13, 2013

The Pacers have the 23rd pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, and former Michigan guard Tim Hardaway Jr. is one player that figures to be taken in that range.

Hardaway Jr. is an intriguing prospect because his range, athletic skill and ability to finish at the rim. He’s also quite a humble player. He has limited his social media use to stay away from the buzz (and knocks) about his game, and instead focused on showing teams what he has to offer. Hardaway Jr. said he doesn’t pay any attention to the mock drafts, but he’s not oblivious of them, either.

“I don’t focus on that at all,” he said Friday after his workout. “The only time I hear that stuff is when my friends are telling me. I stay away from all that stuff.”

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There’s no doubt, the Pacers are in need of a backup point guard and a scorer. It’s highly unlikely that they’ll bring D.J. Augustin back and offensively, they could use some more points. They averaged 94.7 points per game last season, which ranked 23rd in the league. If the Pacers take him at 23, he’s certain that he can help in both areas.

Hardaway Jr. had made a conscious effort to improve his ball handling. That’s a real focus for him because he averaged nearly two turnovers per game in three seasons at Michigan. He was a starter on the Wolverines squad that lost to Louisville in the 2013 NCAA National Championship game.

As for his strengths, he’s been trying to show teams his ability to shoot well consistently – he made 43.7 percent of his shots last season – rebound in traffic, and defend at a high level while also being a vocal leader. Communication is critical in whatever you do, but particularly in these workouts when college guys are paired with five new faces in each city.

Friday wasn’t Hardaway Jr.’s first trip to the Fieldhouse. He recalled visiting one time to see his dad, Tim Sr., who played 10 games with the Pacers in 2003. The younger Hardaway was just 11-years-old at the time. Still today, he’s followed what the Pacers have been able to accomplish.

“I watched them all the time during our season and even after our season,” Hardaway Jr. said. “Paul George is a great player. They have [George] Hill. They have a lot of guys that get up and down the court and that was our type of style when we were at Michigan.”

Andrew Smith Goes Through Second Workout

For the second day in a row, the Pacers invited an Indiana native to participate in pre-draft workouts. Unlike Fort Wayne’s Deshaun Thomas, Andrew Smith stayed in state and played his college ball at Butler University. Smith grew up in Zionsville and attended Covenant Christian High School.

“I grew up watching the Pacers and have been here hundreds of times so being able to do this is a special opportunity,” Smith said. He has also played in the building a handful of times before.

Smith, too, has been preparing for the NBA at St. Vincent Sports Performance on the northwest side of Indy. There, he’s worked out alongside Thomas and his former Butler teammate, current Utah Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward.

Smith understands he has to outwork fellow NBA hopefuls while at the same time becoming more well-rounded. His workout with the Pacers on Friday was just his second. He was in Chicago on Thursday. Nothing more is scheduled, but he hopes another couple teams request his presence before the draft so he can have more opportunities showcase his talents.

“The big thing for me is the mid-range game,” he said. “That’s something I didn’t really have in college. Then obviously conditioning, as that’s a huge factor here in these workouts as you’re going from place to place.”

Friday’s workout consisted of about 30 minutes of testing and 90 minutes of on-court exercises. He believes his outside shot has improved quite a bit and that his high-energy, no quit mentality will bode will for him.

At 6-foot-9, 242 pounds, he does have a lean frame, so continuing to add strength is important. Smith averaged 11.3 points and six rebounds per game during his senior campaign and he shot 49.6 percent of his field goals.

Having Butler head coach Brad Stevens on his side has been a big asset. Smith said that Stevens has been in contact with just about every team and he’s already received invitations from a couple organizations to play on their summer league team in July.

“At Butler, we played just about every single good team you can in my four years there,” Smith added. “We contended with just about all of them. I know I can play, I just have to come out and prove it.”

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