Jaden Hardy Looked Like The Prized Recruit He Was In High School During His Summer League Debut

Jaden Hardy fell to the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft, a huge disappointment for a prospect that was ranked in the top-5 of the 2021 high school class. Hardy, who was considered the No. 1 combo guard prospect in the country, bypassed the college experience to play with the G League Ignite last season, but his scoring efficiency issues throughout the campaign hurt his draft stock.

Before he was selected with the 37th pick by the Dallas Mavericks, Hardy was projected as a mid-to-late first round pick and even received an invitation to the green room. Instead, he fell to the second round, but landed on a Mavericks team that is constantly looking for backcourt reinforcements alongside Luka Doncic. That’s especially true in the aftermath of Jalen Brunson joining the New York Knicks. On Friday, we got our first taste of Hardy in Summer League, where he flashed the tantalizing skill set that made him a highly-touted recruit in a 100-99 overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Summer League is a playground for a player with Hardy’s skill set. Hardy is a natural scorer who can pull from anywhere and has never let doubt creep into his mind. He scored 28 points on 9-for-19 shooting while displaying a silky smooth handle and jumper that dazzled the Las Vegas crowd. Hardy even showed a determination to drive to the rim and shot 11 free throws.

Brunson’s departure means Hardy will get an opportunity to earn a rotation spot with the Mavs. His efficiency struggles in the G League were not due to a lack of ability — the Ignite consistently had poor spacing that made shots in the paint difficult, but Hardy was still talented enough to be entrusted with the primary scoring responsibilities for the team. On the Mavericks, Hardy will have a simplified role that will allow him to play in space and showcase his talent appropriately.

Next up for Hardy and the Mavericks is a Monday night tilt against the Utah Jazz.