The Los Angeles Lakers Summer League team is primarily filled with rookies and undrafted players hoping to catch on somewhere, which is pushing second-year guard Josh Hart into a new role: leader.
Hart, who was a pleasant surprise for the Lakers last season after being selected with the 30th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, has become a steadying presence for the Lakers this summer. He knows when and where to attack the defense, how to control the pace, and how to get to his spots on the floor, which is in stark contrast to the sometimes helter-skelter style of play seen in Las Vegas.
However, Summer League head coach Miles Simon said that the team isn’t asking Hart to fuel them on offense, but rather, to get the defense in sync and then build off of that:
“I think Josh found a great balance between passing and scoring tonight. He obviously hit some big shots for us. We want him to be a leader in this setting. Today he set the tone defensively…The offense is a total bonus. I know Josh is going to be able to score, he’s proven that. The leadership is the biggest thing we’ve been looking for from him, and he really provided that tonight.”
Hart developed a reputation as a stalwart defender last season, using the tools that he picked up over the course of four seasons at Villanova to become one of the team’s best perimeter stoppers.
That skill, combined with his shooting ability, has made Hart a valuable piece for a Lakers team that is preparing for a radical shift now that LeBron James is joining the fold.
The more Hart grows as a defensive trend-setter, the more it’s looking like the Lakers found yet another major steal at the end of the first round.
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