The Dallas Mavericks were targeting Jaden Hardy with their late first-round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft before trading the selection to the Rockets for Christian Wood. Hardy struggled in his lone season with the G League Ignite, but he was the number two prospect coming out of high school. Dallas loved his upside and scoring ability.
Hardy slipped into the second round on draft night, and the Mavs pounced on the opportunity to trade back in to grab the player they wanted. It cost Dallas two future second-round picks, but they believe Hardy will be a key rotation piece in the coming years.
Fans want the talented rookie to play, but he has been limited to just 64 minutes through the team’s first 31 games. Hardy has dominated the G League, but his minutes with the Mavericks have been sparse. Here is a closer look at why the 20-year-old rookie is not playing more.
Why Dallas Mavericks have limited Jaden Hardy’s minutes: 3. Defense
Head coach Jason Kidd has preached defense since taking over as Mavs head coach, and it helped the team reach the conference finals last season. They held the Utah Jazz to 100 or fewer points in four of the six games of their first-round playoff series before limiting the Suns to their three-lowest scoring games of the season in round two. It was their defense that sparked the run.
Hardy has improved his defense tremendously since joining the Mavs, but he is still significantly below average. The 6’4 guard can get buckets, but he needs more time to improve his defense. After the Mavs' 15-16 start to the season, they cannot afford to give away any more games because Hardy’s defense is not up to par.
It is not just Jaden Hardy’s defense that has kept him off the floor for the Dallas Mavericks.