When the Los Angeles Lakers young core is discussed, Josh Hart is often a name people forget to mention, as his gritty play style and No. 30 overall draft selection fly under the radar.
But now, in his second season, Hart has continued to make a name for himself by doing just about everything the team need from him. Entering play Sunday, he’s averaging 9.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
But Hart’s major contributions to the team are in the form of defense and hustle, even though he’s also a career 39.6 percent shooter from three. Now, as the Lakers find their identity as a team, it’s becoming all the more clear just how important Hart is to their success and versatility.
Hart knows that he’s the most-forgotten member of the Lakers young core, but that really isn’t of much concern to him. In an interview with Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times, he confirmed that he knows exactly what his role on this team is, and just how crucial it is for their success:
“I dive on the floor for a loose ball, I take charges, I play great defense, or at least I try to play great defense, rebound, hustle plays, things that aren’t flashy and don’t show up on stat sheets,” Hart said. “I don’t go out there and think ‘Oh, I’m gonna go out there and just play ugly,’ I go with the mind-set I’m going to do whatever I can to help this team win.”
Mindsets like Hart’s usually pave the way for success, as when everyone on the roster has a team-first attitude, there’s no egos to put aside. Lonzo Ball, who’s continued to grow into his own, mentioned as much when he emphasized players knowing and filling their respective roles.
This is one of the benefits of playing with the likes of LeBron James and Rajon Rondo. When you have veterans you can look to for guidance, there’s less of a power struggle and more focused basketball.
Hart is a clear example of how a role player can mean so much more to a team than what we can see on a stat sheet, and as the Lakers hopefully continue to win, that impact will mean more and more every night.