66ers Draft Profile: Jaden Hardy Is All About Shot Making originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Scout report on NBA draft prospect Jaden Hardy:
If you’re looking for comparisons between Hardy and Bradley Beal, you’re in luck.
Clearly, a career close to Beal’s would be exciting and unusual for a player who is widely believed to be the #23 pick by the Sixers in next Thursday’s NBA draft. However, Hardy is already familiar with several All-Stars. According to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports WashingtonHardy told reporters that he had a sit-down with LeBron James, practiced several times with James Harden and Damian Lillard, and received advice from Trae Young.
A five-star high school rookie, Hardy played in 12 G League Exhibition Cup games and 12 exhibition games last season. In those competitions, he averaged 19.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists, 37.9% shooting from the floor and 31.7% from three-pointers.
Hardy is an experienced and confident frame builder. He also throws comfortably from a catch and can run around screens without the ball and take on jumpers on the go.
We must not lose sight of a player’s ability to generate three-point attempts, even in the face of intense competition. Part of what made Harden great during his heyday in Houston was that he created plenty of long-range shots for himself (12.8 three-pointers per game in 2018–19 and 2019–20) and made a decent amount of them ( 36.2%). Hardy can exhaust very deep jumpers and often finds small shot windows with subtle swings and other ball handling tricks.
Like most 19-year-old guards, Hardy would benefit from building muscle. However, it has a solid size for its position, including a wingspan of 6ft 9in. Improving free throw play is one way to improve Hardy’s efficiency, and it doesn’t seem unrealistic at all.
Broadly speaking, Hardy’s decision making was his main problem last year.
Context always matters, and it’s worth paying attention to the challenges involved in transitioning from high school dominance to professional basketball. But if NBA teams gave Hardy minutes, and his shot selection and defensive efforts were the same as last season, they would be disappointed.
Hardy is good at changing pace, but he doesn’t look like the supposed Jaden Ivey of the top five as he always has elite athleticism up his sleeve. Yes, he is effective at making shots, but there are times when that just isn’t possible, or when passing can give his team more opportunities.
Hardy only scored 0.83 on a half court shot (eighth percentile). NBA.com. To become a true three-tiered threat in the NBA, he needs to perfect his technique. A reliable float will also come in handy.
More points on the perimeter would be great for the Sixers, although Hardy is still clearly a growing player and needs to prove that he can be a dedicated, solid NBA defenseman.
While it’s unreasonable to expect every talented combo defense prospect to become Tyrese Maxey, it’s possible the 66ers will feel lucky that Hardy has dropped to 23rd.