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‘He’s a steal’: Jaden Hardy impresses in Mavs’ summer league debut

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Jaden Hardy wanted to use summer league to prove himself to the NBA and those teams that passed on him, and the Dallas Mavericks draftee did just that on Friday.

The 37th pick tied a team-high with 28 points and added four rebounds, three assists and one steal in a 100-99 overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls. He went 9-of-19 from the field, including 2-of-7 from 3-point range, in 33 minutes of action.

Hardy, who attended high school in nearby Henderson, turned in a strong performance in front of friends and family. He had 18 points alone in the second half, including 10 in the third quarter, and looked to stay aggressive throughout his time on the court.

Overall, Hardy was excited to finally take the court.

It felt really great to get out there and play with the team. We’ve been practicing for the past couple of days so just getting out there and having fun, really. The message was to come out here and play hard and together, and that’s what I feel like we did.

Hardy slipping to the Mavericks at 37 was rather surprising.

He was among the 24 prospects invited to attend the draft from the green room. Teams each year submit a list of players they believe will be selected early, meaning he was thought to be a first-round pick. He instead fell to Dallas.

Hardy was the last of those prospects standing in the green room when his name was eventually called. The process of selecting the green room attendees is far from an exact science but Hardy still felt as though he should have been taken earlier.

That has stayed with him since draft night.

I for sure had a chip on my shoulder (tonight). I just really wanted to prove myself right and those long hours in the gym and me putting my trust in God, I for sure feel like I came out here with a chip on my shoulder and wanted to prove myself right.

The performance not only gave Hardy some assurance that he should have been drafted higher, but it also gave those around him some proof, as well. He earned some praise from Mavericks newcomer Christian Wood after his first performance.

The early showing by Hardy is certainly an encouraging sign for the Mavericks. He will have to earn his playing time next season on such a veteran-heavy team, but he looks to be up for the challenge.

Dallas returns to play on Monday.

This post originally appeared on Rookie Wire! Follow us on Facebook!

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