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Mavericks GM Nico Harrison likes what he sees in Jaden Hardy

Dallas had him ranked much higher than No. 37 overall.

2022 NBA Draft Photo by Steve Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks moved into the 2022 NBA Draft thanks to a trade with the Sacramento Kings. Dallas is acquiring the draft rights to Jaden Hardy, the No. 37 overall pick, from Sacramento. The Kings will receive the Mavericks’ 2024 and 2028 second-round picks.

Dallas did not have any picks in the draft thanks to trades that GM Nico Harrison made this season. He said before the draft that he and the Mavericks would be opportunistic if a situation arose that they couldn’t pass up. Hardy, who played for NBA G League Ignite last season, fit the criteria.

“If you look at the way he grew with the Ignite, he started off a little slow,” Harrison said. “He really came into his own. He’s athletic, he’s long [with a] long wingspan [and] good size. He can get to the basket at will and he’s a scorer. He’s been a scorer his whole life, but I think when you take a kid that doesn’t go to college and tries the G League Ignite and is playing with older, more mature people and you see him develop as he’s going through that, it just shows you what he can become.”

The Mavericks had Hardy at No. 19 overall on their draft board, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Hardy was ranked as ESPN’s top guard and the No. 2 player in the 2021 high school class.

“We had him higher than 37,” Harrison said, laughing. Yeah, we were surprised. We were really shocked that he kept slipping.”

As a high school junior, he averaged 30.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.4 assists at Coronado High School in Henderson, Nevada. He earned McDonald’s All-American and USA Nike Hoops Summit accolades in 2020-21. Last season, with the Ignite, the 6-foot-4 guard averaged a team-high 19.8 points to go along with 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in 24 games.

“If you look at the way he played [in the G League], his team always gave him the ball,” Harrison said. “They trusted him and know he has the work ethic. He put the time in the gym. If you look at his teammates, some of them are veterans, he had the ball in his hand because they gave him the ball. If you see the shot clock running down, they gave him the ball. They only do that for people they trust.”

The Mavericks must have a great deal of trust in what they saw from Hardy as well. Moving two future second-round picks to acquire him isn’t nothing. During the draft, Harrison didn’t see any indication that he would make his first-ever draft selection as an NBA GM until the opportunity presented itself.

“I had no inclination,” Harrison said. “I just knew that we did the work, we knew the guys we liked and if guys we liked, like Jaden, were available then we would try to get back in. You can’t predict that. It happened, so we did as we said we would do. We got in and we got the player that we liked.”

Harrison did not say whether Hardy will make the final 15-man roster or sign a two-way contract with Dallas. Regardless, he said he expects Hardy to stick around for a while.

“I’m not sure yet,” Harrison said, “but either way, we expect him to be a guy that has a long-term future with us.”

Here’s our live show of reactions to the draft after Dallas secured Hardy. If you can’t see the embed below, click this link. Or go to your favorite podcast player and search Mavs Moneyball podcast. Please subscribe!