The Dallas Mavericks returned to the 2022 draft to select Jaden Hardy, a 6’4 combined guard who recently played for the G-League Ignite. A Detroit 5-star rookie, Hardy has decided to give up college basketball and play for Ignite, a G-League-affiliated development team.
Hardy was heavily on the NBA Draft radar after a stellar junior season at Coronado High School in Nevada (he moved there from Detroit shortly before attending), where he averaged over 30 points per game and was named Gatorade Nevada Player of the Year. Ranked second overall in ESPN’s Top 100 Recruits, it was reported that he had offers from major programs like Kentucky and UCLA, but opted for the G-League path, following in the footsteps of players as the # 2 pick in the latest draft, Jalen Green.
Unlike Green, Hardy’s plan didn’t provide the same rewards, as Jaden struggled a little in his 25 matches with the Ignite, only shooting 37.3% from the field and 28.5% from three. Most NBA talent evaluators don’t believe those numbers represent his true level of talent, which is why Hardy received a green room draft invitation, after being mocked fairly consistently in the top 25.
When his shot is falling, Hardy can score, plain and simple. While not the most explosive athlete, at 6’4 with a wingspan of 6’9, Hardy has the size and ball handling skill to create out of dribble and get to his points, attacking off the pick and roll or operating from the triple threat position. For a 19-year-old, he has an impressive assortment of dribbling moves, most notably preferring hang dribbling or stepping back to set his sweater. He made 88% of his free throws and shot 50% on unprotected catch and shoot, so there is reason to be optimistic about his shots even if the results weren’t always present in a small sample size. He has averaged 22 points with a real 52-shot percentage in his last 10 games, showing that he has improved as the season progresses.
The two main areas of concern are its revenues, which were often of the headache type, and its 50% conversion rate on the edge, which isn’t great. Hardy will likely live and die from the jump shot, and it will be up to him to work on his floating game, as well as make better decisions with basketball once it’s been painted. Defensively, Hardy isn’t great, and without elite athletic traits, he might just be controlling the other guards exclusively to the next level. Even though he was heralded as a top-tier shooter out of school and tasked with being one of the options featured in the G-League Ignite, it seems pretty clear he wasn’t ready for that role yet. What’s worse, the offensive workload may have affected his concentration on the other side; there were times when he was caught standing, looking at the ball, not even in one position. These are obviously things you can say about most potential 19-year-olds.
Fit in Dallas
I’ll be honest: I’m a little surprised with this selection. Not because I think Hardy has no talent, or doesn’t represent a great value at pick 37, but because this is a player who will likely need time to develop and doesn’t necessarily offer the kind of skill that would give him a clear role in a team. who just went to the Western Conference Finals. With the Ignite, he was one of the main ballhandlers and did much of his work in isolation as time went by. This is not going to happen in the NBA (at least not anytime soon). However, if he can hone his shot, cut down on missed shots / forced passes, and deliver on the promise he showed in high school, then there is a chance he can carve out a role as a candle keeper, who can shoot out of the way. dribble or off-screen, adding an acceptable value as a secondary director / passer-by. The talent is there, I just hope the Mavericks have a plan on how to bring it out.
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