If you’re asking me, the San Antonio Spurs need to prioritize high defensive upside in the draft, particularly if they can find a high-upside defender in the lottery. But if the Spurs are in need of anything on offense, it’s a guy the team can go to in late-game situations to get a bucket. Dejounte Murray could use a reliable partner in the backcourt that can take some of the offensive weight off his shoulders, and while the Spurs may envision that role for Devin Vassell or Josh Primo in the near future, Jaden Hardy could be another good option.
If the draft were to shake out this way and the Spurs weren’t interested in trading up for one of Shaedon Sharpe, Johnny Davis, or Malaki Branham, then Jaden Hardy could end up being a big steal at 20th overall if he’s still on the board. Like TyTy Washington, Hardy is another guard prospect limited by his situation that I could see being selected much higher than the consensus might suggest.
Hardy isn’t a freak athlete, and if you look at his G League Ignite stats, you may be wondering why he’s a 1st round prospect at all. But the fact of the matter is that asking a 19-year-old to lead a professional team’s offense is a huge challenge, and while he struggled early on in the season, similar to Ousmane Dieng, his improvements toward the end of his season were palpable and impressive.
He has a chance to be one of the draft’s elite distance shooters and three-level scorers. At worst, he can take over Lonnie Walker’s role off the bench. At best, he has definitive offensive star upside.
Hardy’s overall defensive impact and playmaking were two of my biggest concerns of his coming into the season, and while he will need to continue improving those parts of his game in the league, I was pleasantly surprised by some positive moments in both of those areas.
Do not let big boards and mock drafts like this one fool you: Hardy will have a serious case to be selected in the lottery and possibly even at 9th overall by the Spurs, so if he’s still available by the 20th pick and the Spurs are still in possession of that pick, this should be a no-brainer.