October 3, 2022

Jaden Hardy has now played an NBA game (albeit in the Las Vegas Summer League) for the Dallas Mavericks, and he looked stunning. 28 points on 47% shooting with some assists and some rebounds is a great first performance for any second-round pick. However, for Mavericks fans, this standout performance carries a bit more weight given the current circumstances.

Dallas will soon lose its second-best point guard in Jalen Brunson to the New York Knicks (he hasn’t signed yet, but will soon). The loss fueled an outbreak of emotional resentment from Mavericks fans on the internet. Of course, the former 2018 second-round pick was the Mavericks’ second-best point guard who just seemed to be becoming the legitimate second fiddle in Luka Doncic’s orchestra. And yes, the Mavericks objectively screwed up by not offering Brunson an extension earlier in the 2021-22 season. The handling of the situation by the Mavericks and future Knicks guard was a bit appalling, but now that the dust is settling and Dallas is looking to the future, it’s best to step back and see the situation as it is. is.

Brunson commanded an absurd amount of money for a 16-point-per-game scorer with no distinction in the pros. Maybe he’ll be 20 and 6 a night, with a few star appearances and the contract will be perfect. But maybe not. And if the Mavericks had re-signed him in the latter case, their payroll would be no less encumbered for another three to four years.

Going back to Hardy, the Mavericks’ 2022 second-round pick, Dallas has a much clearer path to a championship with him developing for much less. Realistically, Dallas doesn’t beat the Clippers, Nuggets or Warriors at full strength if you just add Jalen Brunson to the current roster (with the addition of Christian Wood). They always needed more. Brunson was not a game-changing acquisition, and it might be a blessing in disguise that they couldn’t retain him. Not only does this give them more room to maneuver in the future, but it allows Jaden Hardy to grow much faster.

So let’s overreact to his first NBA game. Hardy is more talented than Brunson, I think that was clear in his high school days as well as sometimes in the G-League last year, but he has a lot more raw talent. One of his big issues last year was finishing, and he looked great against Chicago in the restricted area. He looked smooth and in control as a ball handler in the pick and roll and didn’t look like what I would expect from a 37th overall pick. Hardy showed flashes of a guy who can come off the bench, give you 11 points and three assists, and then, as he gains more and more playing experience, potentially be a second creator in the series. matches next to Luka Doncic.

With time and development, he could do everything Brunson did, with more size and athleticism. He’s not going to be that guy right away, but it sure looks like he’s going to be an integral part of that team not too far down the road. Normally it’s not wise to overreact on a game, but Jaden Hardy has played too well and has too much talent not to say the Mavericks might have stolen a replacement for Jalen Brunson from the depths of the game. NBA Draft.

Click here To access our latest episode of After Dark, part of the Mavs Moneyball podcast feed, click play on the embed below, or go to your favorite podcast provider and search for Mavs Moneyball Podcast. I was joined after the match by Joseone of the co-hosts of #77Spacesin the same way Jas and rollowhich is a pre-game and off-season Twitter space. Click here to listen to one of their previous shows.