Key to Dallas Mavericks rookie Jaden Hardy’s development: 2. Defense
Hardy is 6’4 with a plus wingspan and plenty of athleticism. He has all the tools to be an average to plus defender in the NBA, but the results on the defensive end have not been there. It is important to remember that he is only 20 years old, and it is not uncommon to see the defensive effort and intensity of young players fluctuate.
At times, Hardy was caught ball watching and not prepared during his lone season with the Ignite. He gave up too many easy buckets and was just not fully engaged on the defensive end too often.
Again, Hardy being selected by the Mavericks should help. The team reached the conference finals last season on the back of their defense, and Luka Doncic made a massive leap on that end of the floor by buying into coach Kidd’s scheme. Dallas went from a bottom ten defense in the final season under Rick Carlisle to top ten last season.
If Jaden Hardy wants to play NBA minutes this season, he will have to buy in and improve on the defensive end of the floor. Can Kidd and his staff bring the best out of the rookie? Getting him to increase his defensive effort and intensity is near the top of the priority list.