Jaden Hardy is a 6’4, 200 pound wing born in Detroit. He’s long, with a reported 6’9 wingspan, and was the number 2 overall recruit coming into the year. The G-League Ignite experiment did not work out well for him. The constant turmoil around the NBA’s development pipeline experiment made it a hard place for him to show off a skill set to make him look good.
On the season, Hardy had per game averages of 32.6 minutes 19.2 points, 37.2 FG%, 18.4 FGA, 30.8 3P%, 7.5 3PA, 70.5 FT%, 2.7 FTA, 49.5 TS%, 4.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 3.2 turnovers, 1.2 steals, .1 blocks, 2.4 fouls.
While, unfortunately, the team put him into situations like this far too often, Hardy can create separation but it shouldn’t be his primary means of offense:
Hardy’s percentages were pulled down by the complete lack of spacing on the team. Look at these drives and see how his teammates clog the paint for him:
One interesting thing that Hardy developed as a counter was his passing. In the first 12 games of the “Ignite Showcase” Hardy had 38 assists to 42 turnovers but in the 13 games of the “G-League Ignite Tour” he had 51 assists to 42 turnovers. A significant improvement.
Hardy showed a variety of passes off in the season specifically dump offs at the rim:
Hardy is a shot-maker who was forced into heavy creation roles on this team. Hardy’s ideal role would be as a catch and shoot weapon (43.5% on uncontested catch and shoot 3s) and even cutting to the basket where he shot 63% on cuts.
This shot here is the way he should be used:
Hardy averaged 1.606 points per uncontested catch and shoot attempt that would be the 95th percentile in the G-League according to Synergy.
I currently have Hardy as the 10th prospect on the HoopSocial Big Board. He can fit in off ball in several places. New Orleans, San Antonio, Washington, Portland, New York, Atlanta, Charlotte, OKC, and Indiana would all be solid spots for him and if he does for some reason slide in the draft Memphis, Chicago Milwaukee and Dallas would be thrilled to have someone who could be such an off ball weapon in their systems.
Simplifying Hardy’s role will be vital to his success. He seems a bit heavier than his listed weight and I think getting into better shape will help his ability to attack the rim. His size and length should help him be useful on defense and the year playing against much harder competition than his peers will definitely prove valuable in the long run.
This brings us to the question: What is Hardy?
He was billed as possibly a Heliocentric Scorer if everything went right in the G-League.
It. Did. Not.
Is he just some volume scoring on ball wing? Or maybe more of an off ball weapon?
Hardy is not going to be the next James Harden like some thought at the beginning of the year, but he is going to be a solid role player who can have the ability to take over games. His ability to get easy buckets should earn him more freedom to begin to experiment with the shot creation that he showed in high school maybe making him into something like Utah’s Jordan Clarkson.
Someone who can morph between the off ball Buddy Hield type role and the on ball attacker of Clarkson depending on team needs would be extremely valuable to NBA teams and is why I currently have Hardy as the 10th prospect in the 2022 NBA draft.