LAS VEGAS – As he poked fun at a defender, then pulled the string on his move for a step-back jumper that slowly rammed into the net, Jaden Hardy smiled and his teammates screamed.
Yep, the kid had a day to remember himself at the start of the NBA Summer League.
The second-round draftee fell to 28 points at the Thomas & Mack Center on Friday afternoon and did many things very well and some things not so well – fully expected to get his first taste of NBA competition from a rookie .
The Mavericks dropped the Chicago Bulls a 100–99 overtime heartbreaker in their summer-league opener, but it was a game that gave everyone a chance to see the potential of Hardy, 6–4 guard, to get the Mavericks. did business. 37th pick in last month’s draft.
He finished with 28 points, four rebounds and three assists. But he also had six turnovers, including a couple of expensive ones at the end of regulation and in overtime.
Still, the reviews were glowing.
“He had a great game until the very end,” said owner Mark Cuban, who had a front row seat to the rookie’s unveiling. “He’s had a few turnovers, but you can just see that he’s got the patience, his behavior is great, he works hard – everything you want to see in a rookie. After his first summer-league game. There’s a lot to be excited about.”
Hardy clearly outclassed Chicago’s Dylan Terry, his first-round pick (18th overall), with nine points and six turnovers in a game, which was understandable as both teams held in Las Vegas. Had only practiced a few days before it happened.
Hardy, who went to high school in nearby Henderson, Nev., was crowded with family, friends, and supporters in the stands. Summer-League head coach Greg St. Jean said it should be a “pinch on himself” moment for Hardy. And that was it.
“It feels great to be able to come back home and play in front of my family and friends and the people I went to school with. It’s great,” he said. “I’m not even sure (how many supporters) were here. I can’t even guess you.”
And while he was working on the court, Maverick teammates Maxie Kleber, Tim Hardaway Jr., Theo Pinson, Christian Wood, Dorian Finn-Smith and others were keeping a close watch from across the court.
Hardy was meeting most of them for the first time, he said.
And, likewise, it was his first time in an NBA-type game that the ball was in his hands and the game was on the line.
“Jaden did a great job,” said St. Jean. “That’s part of the process here — putting her in those situations. Then being able to review the film and talk it through. People may remember some of those plays (at the end), but at the same time, their Had 28 points and took a lot of big plays to keep us in it and maintain our lead. It’s a great start for them and we are going to learn a lot.
“It all bodes well for building our foundation. In these situations, we cannot imitate it in practice. So these are learning moments for all of us. And I want to make this clear: He played a phenomenal game. They (late turnover) can stand out. There were some pick-six turnovers, but we had a bunch of turnovers. He played the game very well.
In the second half, Hardy took three consecutive shots from the perimeter. Then, with the pressure on the defense against him, he turned around the defenders and committed a foul on a drive to the rim.
Then, when he tried to drive, he had some property, and the ball was dropped.
“It’s a learning experience – I’m still learning the game,” he said. “It’s only going to make me better in the long run. Those (late turnovers) were definitely learning experiences. All I can do is watch the film and learn from them.
“And they (the coaching staff) really want to help me.”
Nico Harrison, President and General Manager of Basketball Operations, said: “I thought that was cool. He’s still young. It’s his first game so you don’t want to put too much stock in it. But you can clearly say he’s high.” level can be played.
Hardy shot 19 of 9 from the ground, including a 7-for-12 from inside a 3-point arc.
He was just 2-of-7 from the distance, but made several shots from midrange.
“Oh, he can shoot the ball,” Cuban said. “You can just tell, release, arc on him, step-back. He’s playful, he can spot paint, so there’s a lot of good stuff.”
Coaching Carousel: St Jean said after Friday’s game that he would step down as head coach of the summer league.
This is by design.
“It’s a wonderful experience,” he said. “Summer League is an unprecedented opportunity for players, coaches, staff. I am very fortunate that our organization has allowed me to be the coach of today’s game.
“This is going to be the last game I am coaching. We’re going to have one of our G-League coaches, George Galanopoulos (of Texas Legends) coach, as well as our assistant coach, Jared Dudley, so I did another – 0-1, we’ll bring good coaches here. “
Saint Jean said he would analyze the rest of the summer league with other coaches and said it made sense that Galanopoulos would get a chance to coach a game or two.
“He is our G-League coach and a lot of these guys can play in the G-League for us,” St. Jean said. “And coach Dudley. It’s his first year as a coach and it’s a great opportunity for him to get his first head-coaching repetition. So it’s the best of both worlds.”
In short: Coach Jason Kidd made an appearance on Friday’s game broadcast and said he could envision both Javle McGee and Christian Wood in the starting lineup. That, and much more, will be decided when the camp opens in late September. , , After three consecutive days of practice, which includes playing on Friday before traveling to Las Vegas on Thursday, the Mavericks will have a rest day on Saturday before rehearsing on Sunday. Their second summer-league game is against Utah on NBA TV on Monday nights at 9 PM. , , Forward AJ Lawson was the shooting star on Friday, hitting 6-of-11 3-pointers en route to 28 points, matching Hardy for high-point honors. , , Rebounding was an issue for the Mavericks last season. This remained an issue in the Summer League as the Bulls dismissed him 46–37. The Bulls were led by big man Marko Simonovic with 27 points and 13 rebounds.