After appearing in just four of the Hawks‘ first 35 contests this season, Tim Hardaway Jr. is now a regular in Mike Budenholzer‘s rotation, a development that coincides with the swingman’s improvement defensively, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. “I keep saying how happy we are with his defense,” Budenholzer said of Hardaway. “I think he’s really improved and really committed to that end of the court, whether it be fighting through screens in pick-and-roll situations, fighting through screens in off-the-ball situations, sprinting back in transition. There is a focus, an effort, on the defensive end.”
“I think people don’t appreciate his athleticism,” the coach continued. “And so you are seeing it on the defensive end of the court and now you are seeing it on the offensive end of the court. That is the thing that we’ve learned and grown the most together, I think he can really attack the basket, do things off the dribble, get to the paint and I think he’s passing it pretty well too. Obviously he can make shots, but he’s got a lot more to offer. He’s just doing all of those things in positive ways.”
Here’s more from the Southeast Division:
- Offseason signee Amar’e Stoudemire delivered strong performances during Hassan Whiteside‘s recent absence, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra admits he has to stop himself from turning to the 33-year-old more often so that his oft-injured body stays intact, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press examines. Stoudemire, who is again poised to hit free agency this summer, played in only three games through Christmas Day but has seen much more extensive action since.
- The Magic lack outside shooting, though the team’s brass believes it’s a problem that will improve over time as the young players on the roster improve, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel in a piece that examines the Magic’s assets and needs as the trade deadline approaches.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.