76ers draft rumors: Does Jaden Hardy make sense at the 23?

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: AUG 10 Nike Academy Showcase Game
LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 10: Jaden Hardey looks on during the Nike Academy Showcase Game on August 10, 2019 at the Los Angeles Southwest College in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

There are still a ton of questions still unanswered surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers Draft. Given the win-now situation, the franchise is in, it is no surprise they are attempting to move the pick. Philly was initially held without a draft selection due to the assets required to make the James Harden trade. The Nets elected to differ the pick to the 2023 draft, which provided the Sixers with an asset they greatly needed. Whether they elect to take the pick or make a trade, the 23rd selection provides them an opportunity to improve in which they otherwise would have been unable to.

It is important to note that due to the Stepien rule, the Philadelphia 76ers cannot trade first-round picks in consecutive years. This means the Sixers would have to wait until after making a selection to officially make a deal. This is certainly a hurdle that the franchise can find a way to clear but makes the path toward improvement a little more difficult.

Given the complications and the seemingly low interest in the package, there is certainly a part where the 76ers end up making a selection. While typically, a rookie cannot make enough of an impact in year one, there are several appealing prospects that fill the Sixers’ needs around their portion of the draft. While names like EJ Liddell, Jalen Williams, Dalen Terry, and a few others have caught the eye of Philadelphia 76er fans, the franchise may have its sights set on another prospect.

Jaden Hardy has been linked to the Sixers increasingly often as the draft inches closer. The G-League Ignite standout has been one of the few prospects the 76ers have worked out and even had a few special guests in attendance.

Why Jaden Hardy Makes Sense for the 76ers

When looking back on the thought process, Daryl Morey typically takes in the draft value is clearly something he values highly. This was the thought process behind the Tyrese Maxey and Jaden Springer selections in the past two seasons. Neither player was truly the team’s need, although Maxey has turned out to be everything they had hoped and then some; it was clear, however, that they were the best player on the board, and this led to the decision.

Jaden Hardy is set to be one of the higher-valued picks regardless of where he lands in the draft. The 6’5″ guard was the Number 2 ranked prospect in last year’s high school class. He elected to pass on the top-tier college offers in favor of the G-League Route. Despite being expected to be within the top-five pick conversation prior to the season, Hardy took a little bit of time to adjust to the learning curve and had some concerning shooting struggles.

In total, he averaged 19.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.2 steals during his 25 games in the G-League. Despite the impressive stats, Hardy shot just 37.9% from the field and just 30.9% on three-point attempts. The 19-year-old has intriguing shooting potential and good creation ability. It is a difficult transition to the G-League, which makes the evaluation process slightly different from the college route.

Jaden Hardy had far from a flawless season, but there is still plenty to like in his game. He had some major turnover concerns, which were highlighted by his 3.4 turnovers per game and 28.1% turnover rate. He also showed poor shot selection and had too much tunnel vision at times. There is still a ton of upside for Hardy, and he projects well as an off-the-bench spark at a minimum. The former top recruit still has a ton of pedigree, and it is entirely possible he has a bounce-back season next year to jumpstart his NBA career.

Jaden Hardy is also the type of prospect that could catch a team’s eye late in the draft. If the 76ers believe there is a team eyeing him up, he would provide an excellent trade asset. The value of Jaden Hardy at the 23rd pick is clear and aligns with Morey’s thought process of whether they elect to trade him or not.

Why Jaden Hardy Doesn’t Make Sense for the 76ers

If the Philadelphia 76ers do not end up trading the pick, Jaden Hardy would be an interesting selection. He certainly possesses top-tier talent and is loaded with potential, but he does not fit the need of the current Sixers team. Sure the bench unit would benefit from adding a microwave scorer, but the lack of athletics wings and plus defenders is a larger concern. Hardy plays a much more ball-dominant role and projects as a pretty pure shooting guard at the NBA level.

Given the number of lengthy wings that are set to be drafted around the 76ers’ draft slot, they would effectively be passing on some of these prospects. While it is rare for a late-round rookie to make an immediate impact and even less likely considering the track record of Doc Rivers, there are multiple guys on the board who have a better-fitting skillset. Guys like EJ Liddell, Jalen Williams, Dalen Terry, and Christian Braun all have a skill set that is necessary to add to the current Sixers roster. Adding this skillset to the draft would be the most cost-effective way, which is appealing given the 76ers’ tight cap space.

There is certain to be a great deal going on behind the scenes before this pick is made. The most likely outlook seems to be the 76ers finding a way to trade the pick at this point. This would essentially mean the team will be making the pick for whatever the other franchise desires. Regardless, there has been a great deal of noise connecting the Philadelphia 76ers to Jaden Hardy with the 23rd pick, so don’t be surprised if this is the name announced at the selection.