Why Jaden Hardy needs to be the Dallas Mavericks 6th man of the present and future

Dallas Mavericks, Jaden Hardy
Dallas Mavericks, Jaden Hardy / Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
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Jaden Hardy provides instant offense but must improve his defense to play more

Hardy is a key piece of the team’s present and future. The Mavericks have limited trade assets after acquiring Kyrie Irving. They do not have a tradeable second-round pick, and two first-rounders will be available only if Dallas conveys their 2023 top selection to the Knicks from the original Kristaps Porzingis trade. The threat of Irving leaving in free agency should have the Mavs concerned as they will not have an avenue to replace him.

Hardy and Josh Green are the team’s two young talents that could blossom into something more. Whether Dallas uses them as trade chips or grows them into more substantial rotation pieces does not matter. The Mavericks need both to continue improving if they want to contend for a championship.

Giving Hardy a consistent role means making him a sixth man. He has the ability to score from anywhere, and the 6’4 wing can get hot at a moment’s notice. The Dallas Mavericks cannot start him next to Luka and Kyrie, but they can bring him off the bench to share the floor with one while the other rests.

Jaden Hardy must improve his defense if he wants to get more playing time. There are too many missed assignments and poor rotations right now, but his defense will come with time and experience. The Mavs need his offense and using him as the sixth man should give the 20-year-old plenty of minutes to continue his development.