The Los Angeles Lakers held their first Summer League practice over the weekend, in preparation for the opening game of the inaugural California Classic on Monday, July 2, at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
Headlining the team’s 14-player Summer League roster is Josh Hart, who solidified himself as an integral part of the Lakers’ young core with a promising rookie campaign.
Hart is one of only two carryovers from last year’s Las Vegas Summer League championship team (Alex Caruso) and in part due to his experience and not playing last summer because of injury, wants to serve in a leadership role for his new teammates that are getting acclimated to the NBA.
“I guess I know a lot more,” Hart said, when describing the differences between his rookie season to the start of his second year in the NBA.
“Last year I was just kind of wide-eyed, trying to soak up as much information as I could from B.I., who was a veteran. Now I’m the veteran on this team. I’m just trying to go in and help these young guys learn the principles.”
Speaking from experience, Hart understands that it could be difficult for a rookie to quickly adjust to the NBA. “Right now they’re a deer in headlights,” Hart explained.
“They have no idea what the NBA is. That’s how every rookie is. That’s how I was last year. Kuz, Lonzo, B.I. the year before that. Some of the concepts and styles are totally different than college.”
Nevertheless, Hart likes what he sees from his new teammates in the early going, specifically praising first-round draft pick Moritz Wagner’s personality and second-rounder Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk’s ability to drain shots.
“Very impressed, very impressed,” Hart said of the new members of the Lakers’ young roster. “Mo Wagner is very skilled, talkative, and that’s something you need with a big. He can shoot the lights out.
“And Svi is the same thing; has an NBA-style game, he can shoot the ball and put it on the floor. Having those two guys out there is good. I think Summer League is going to be really good for them to kind of get their feet wet with how the NBA game is played.”
Hart revealed that it was difficult to sit out the majority of Summer League last year, but still managed to take in valuable knowledge from simply being on the sidelines.
“It was hard for me because I only played a game and a half,” Hart conceded. “I didn’t get to really learn too much in that aspect, but just being around it, you can see the level of competitiveness.
“These are guys where it could be last shots in the NBA. You have to go hard, and if not you’re going to get exposed. I think that’s the biggest thing I was able to see.”
For Hart himself, he is expected to suit up for only two Summer League games this year, with one apiece in Sacramento and Las Vegas. However, he plans on speaking to Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson with the hope of landing more playing time.
“I’m going to talk to him to see how that is, Hart revealed. “Honestly, it’s tough. In the offseason I’ve been killing myself and coach Miles doing workouts. Now it’s time to be competitive, and I want to be out there competing.”
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