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The NBA preseason is a prime time for optimism, and when it comes to the Dallas Mavericks’ first preseason game without Luka Doncic, there are many reasons to be optimistic.

Given how well rookie guard Jaden Hardy played in his Mavs debut on Wednesday night in a 98-96 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the hype surrounding his rookie season is growing. He finished with 21 points on 8-16 shooting, and 16 of those points came in the fourth quarter a tightly contested game.

“It shows the work that (Hardy has) put in since summer league. He spends a lot of time in the gym,” said coach Jason Kidd.

“He’s coming back at night, he’s working — not just on the floor — but watching video. He wants to be good, he wants to play, he wants to participate, and again you can see that in tonight’s game.”

On today’s episode of the Mavs Step Back Podcast,’s Dalton Trigg and Grant Afseth recap Dallas’ preseason opener in its entirety. Main talking points include: Hardy’s chances of carving out a permanent role in Kidd’s rotation, Christian Wood’s overall performance, Spencer Dinwiddie’s aggressiveness, and Josh Green appearing more confident and controlled.

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“I tried not to force things. This is all so new to me, so I’m just trying to figure out where to be offensively with these new guys,” said Wood after his 16-point, 13-rebound performance in 25 minutes of action.

“It took me awhile to get in rhythm, but once I found a rhythm, thank God coach Kidd let me play a little bit more than I was supposed to today.”

As always, thanks for listening! Be sure to subscribe to the Mavs Step Back Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify to enter your name for future giveaways!

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