Hardy controlling what he can control as Mavericks mull minutes
Updated: Dec 23, 2022
Adjusting to the NBA while learning to be a professional in every facet, young Jaden Hardy is simply controlling what he can control.
Hardy just wrapped up playing in his second NBA G League Winter Showcase but this go around was much different from his first.
“Just coming in and already having had this experience from my first year,” he said. “Coming back, I already know what’s expected and it’s just about showing what I can do.”
Last year, Hardy participated in the showcase as a member of the NBA G League Ignite. He averaged 16 points per game with five rebounds and three and a half assists per game.
Hardy turned down offers to play at programs like UCLA and Kentucky in favor of turning pro a year earlier.
“I was just ready to turn pro,” he said. “I was fully focused on basketball and working on developing my game and I felt like the Ignite path was going to help me do that and get ready for the NBA.
“Looking back at it, if I had the same choice, I’d do it again.”
By choosing the Ignite, Hardy stayed in Las Vegas where he shined as a junior at Coronado High School. That season, he averaged 30.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg and 8.4 apg earning the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year becoming a five-star recruit in the process.
“He wanted to become a pro,” Ignite head coach Jason Hart said. “He wanted to come and learn how to be a pro rather than learn to be a college player. So this is the avenue and the gateway if you don’t want to go to college and he came here and took advantage of it.”
In 12 total games played with the Ignite last season, Hardy averaged 17.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg and 3.2 apg.
Fast forward to today and Hardy is now a member of the Dallas Mavericks. However, that’s not where his NBA journey began.
“Just to hear my name called [on draft night] was a blessing,” Hardy said. “I feel like everything happens for a reason and I feel like I’m in this position for a reason. God put me here for a reason.”
Hardy was taken in the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings at pick 37. His draft rights were immediately shipped to Dallas.
“I felt like I should’ve been taken earlier,” he admitted. “I feel like I’m better than a lot of those guys that were taken ahead of me. That’s just me being confident in my abilities.”
While playing with the Texas Legends (Dallas’ G League affiliate) this season, Hardy has upped his scoring to 28.8 ppg on 54% from the field and 49% from three-point range. Those shooting numbers are up 20% and 22% respectively.
“He did the same thing last year,” Hart said. “With him not having a senior year in high school last year was basically that for him. He figured the G League out, he scored in it last year so he knows what to expect.”
The first NBA points of Hardy’s career came on Dec. 3 in Madison Square Garden.
“That was a dream come true,” Hardy reflected. “Scoring my first bucket in the NBA and for it to be in Madison Square Garden, that historic arena was just a blessing.”
Hardy went on to score five points in seven minutes of a, 121-100, win for the Mavs. He followed that performance with a 10-point outing against the Phoenix Suns and scored a career-high 15 points against the Chicago Bulls five days later.
In totality, Hardy has played in nine games this season with Dallas and is averaging just over four points a game to go along with a rebound per contest in just over seven minutes a game. According to ESPN.com, his per 40-minute stats would average out to 23.8 ppg, 5 rpg and 6 apg.
Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd was recently quoted as saying, “We have to find minutes for him.” Additionally, Kidd agreed Hardy “deserved the minutes” but cited the many veterans already in the rotation.
Currently, Dallas has seven players averaging 25 minutes or more.
Understanding the balancing of minutes in a rotation, Hart keyed in on what Kidd didn’t say more than what he did.
“He didn’t say he didn’t like him,” Hart said. “He just said he’s got some guys in front of him, who he feels is better. And that’s the reality of the NBA so he just has to keep working and keep getting better and when you get your opportunity, take advantage of it.”
Head down, focused on the ultimate goal is not unfamiliar territory for Hardy.
“[It tells me] just to keep working,” Hardy said. “I’m going to keep controlling what I can control. Stay in the gym and learn from the guys that’s ahead of me on the team, learning from the best so when my time is called, I’m ready for it.”