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2013 NBA Draft: Tim Hardaway Jr. an Under-The-Radar Choice for Minnesota Timberwolves

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With two first round picks in this year’s NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves are set to add some serious talent to an already exciting roster. New president Flip Saunders has been busy with his personnel in working hard to make sure they get the two best available players for them at both the ninth and 26th overall picks.

Going past their options at number nine, the 26th pick could feature a tough decision for the Wolves. At that point, all of the big names are gone, and it becomes a chess match of deciding which player you believe is still first-round worthy versus the guys who are deserving of a second round bid.

Alright, maybe not all of the big names will be gone at 26. One guy that hasn’t leaped up the draft boards but still offers an interesting skill set is Michigan shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. The guard would bring shooting and athleticism to a back court that is lacking in that area, to say the least.

Last season, Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea played a lot of two guard for the Wolves. While they can be consistent shooters at times, both Ridnour and Barea were streaky at best in 2012. Not to mention they are natural point guards, making it difficult to truly do everything asked of the two guard spot.

Hardaway Jr. has the name of course, but does he have what it takes to play in the NBA at a high level? Many draft experts will criticize his ball handling skills, but with being so young he still has time to further develop that set of skill. What he will bring to the Wolves immediately is the ability to knock down open shots which is something Minnesota struggled with most of last year.

A solid jump shot and great athleticism are two of Hardway Jr.’s biggest strengths. Playing for a team like the Wolverines last year didn’t hurt, as he was one of the biggest reasons outside of point guard Trey Burke for their success. The season featured a handful of games where Hardaway Jr. nailed some gigantic shots to either win the game or to send it into extra minutes, giving his team a fighting chance to pull out the win.

With the Timberwolves, he still may not start right away as head coach Rick Adelman would most likely stick with his rotation from last year solely based on chemistry alone. But, he would have the opportunity to fight for minutes and work himself into the lineup eventually.

I would venture to guess that most Timberwolves fans don’t want to see a point guard start at the two guard spot for 82 games a second year in a row. If Hardaway Jr. fell to 26, which many believe he could – lots of draft boards have him between 20-30 – the Timberwolves would have to at least give him a long, hard thought.

Ryan Heckman is a writer for RantSports.com covering the NBA and NFL. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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