Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton made the decision two games ago to forego a traditional starting lineup, instead allowing Brandon Ingram to operate as the point guard and inserting rookie Josh Hart in place of Tyler Ennis. The results have been excellent so far.
Hart has posted back-to-back double-doubles in the Lakers’ two wins to end their five-game road trip. The rookie has brought more defense and toughness to the starting lineup and his work on the glass has been huge.
Additionally, Hart gives the Lakers another player who can push the ball after grabbing a rebound. A four-year player at Villanova, Hart is more mature and experienced than the average rookie.
After the Lakers win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Hart said he isn’t at all surprised by his performance and credited his time in college for preparing him for these moments, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Not really. Not to be cocky or anything like that. Just coming from Villanova, that program, that’s one thing I’m going to praise coach Wright about. He taught me how to handle certain things, he taught me how to never break, and that kind of thing. Not surprised, just kind of knowing what I can do.”
While he would seem unlikely to remain a starter once Lonzo Ball returns from injury, Hart insists that he will play whatever role the Lakers need:
“I just try to take it as it comes. I think I have the potential to (start). But I’m just trying to fill any void or any role that the team needs. If that’s me starting, cool. If that’s me coming off the bench, cool.”
Hart has proven he can handle a larger workload and his numbers as a starter are far greater than when he comes off the bench. He averages 11.2 points and 5.5 rebounds in 30 minutes when starting, but just 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 16.1 minutes as a reserve.
The most important thing for Hart will be keeping up this level of play once he inevitably returns to his bench role. Hart’s rotation spot should be set in stone at this point, but his play must remain consistent.
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERSNATION FORUM CLUB