First Impressions of Jaden Hardy

The Dallas Mavericks second round draft pick Jaden Hardy made his NBA debut in this year’s Summer League, hosted as always in Las Vegas. While expectations for the rookie aren’t sky high after slipping in the draft, Hardy was 247 Sports’ third overall recruit coming out of high school before agreeing to play in the G-League. Mavs fans were excited to see what the talented guard could do in his first NBA action.

Summer League Stats: 15.0 PPG, 32.7% FG, 5.0 RBP, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG

Unfortunately, Hardy’s Summer League statistics weren’t that much different from his play in the G-League. Hardy averaged 17.7 PPG on 35% shooting in his lone year with the Ignite. Hardy’s inefficiency and shot selection were two of the reasons he slipped in the Draft, and both of those were on display in the Summer League.

Hardy is a pure scoring guard and being only one year removed from high school means there is plenty of room for growth, but it will take time. Assistant Coach Jared Dudley, when asked about Hardy’s debut, had this to say:

For him, we’re going to have to work with him. It’s not going to be something overnight.”

There is an understanding within the Mavericks organization that Hardy is a relatively raw prospect, but the talent is certainly there.

Positives from Summer League

Hardy displayed difficult shot making and fantastic ball handling in his debut, two skills that should serve him well in his role with the Mavericks. Hardy also showed high activity level on the defensive side of the ball, averaging 1.3 steals and 0.8 blocks per game across four Summer League contests.

Hardy’s main skill set as a scoring threat is his biggest asset that should serve him well in a well-spaced Maverick’s offense. With the Mavericks moving Spencer Dinwiddie into the starting lineup after the departure of Jalen Brunson, Hardy has a great chance to earn playing time off the bench as a scorer and eventual ball handler. With the current construction of the roster, Hardy has arguably the best pure scoring skill off the bench, and the combination of Hardy, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Christian Wood could make for one of the best bench unites in the NBA.

Areas of Improvement

The efficiency numbers for Hardy must increase, but Hardy shouldn’t be the primary ball handler in any important scenario (as long as he continues to grow), so he’ll simply have to focus on knocking down his catch and shoot opportunities. As training camp opens later this year, expect the Mavericks’ coaches to work side by side with Hardy as he prepares to make his season debut.

While Jaden Hardy’s Summer League debut may not have been exactly what Mavs fans were expecting, he showed some glimpses of why he was such a highly touted prospect out of high school. The scoring ability and ball skills are clear, and the Mavericks’ coaches will have to work with the young guard on improving his efficiency as the season progresses.

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