2. Jaden Hardy is Winning Most Improved Player
Jaden Hardy had a solid rookie season for a second-round pick, and expectations are high heading into his sophomore campaign. And his preseason debut has made those expectations even higher.
Hardy was one of the few bright spots from what was admittedly a pretty embarassing loss all around. He led the team in minutes, dropping 13 points with 3 assists, 1 board and 1 steal.
That stat-line doesn't paint the full picture though. The offense was humming when the ball went through his hands, and his minutes brought on some of the best defense the Mavs played all day.
We may have lost by 12 points, but the Mavs actually out-scored the Wolves by 12 when Hardy was on the floor (getting out-scored by 24 when he was off).
He looked like a legit NBA sixth-man, and there's an important factor to note here: his minutes were off the bench, but that playing time was still largely against the Timberwolves' starters and actual rotation players, This wasn't garbage time stat-padding.
Most Improve Player might still be a season away from really being within reach for Hardy, but he looks ready to make the leap from "promising end-of-the-bench guy" to "legit contributor who is a core piece in the rotation."