Despite not qualifying for the playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers saw tremendous progression from their young core this season. One of the key contributors, rookie guard Josh Hart, proved to be an underrated, valuable asset on both sides of the court.
In his first NBA campaign, Hart has averaged seven points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, in just over 22 minutes on the floor. He has sunk nearly 46 percent of his shots while successfully converting 39 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.
Defensively, Hart is one of many players to help the Lakers drastically improve on that end, when compared to last year. The unit currently ranks 13th with a defensive rating of 108.2.
Hart has thrived with an increase of minutes since the start of the new year, but especially after being called upon for a larger role when injuries hindered the team.
In his most recent game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Hart recorded a 20-point, 11-rebound double-double in 32 minutes of action. Afterward, he reflected on his rookie season and believes he is finally getting accustomed to the NBA level.
“Going in, I wanted to play 82 [games],” Hart said. “Things didn’t happen that way, but I think I’m starting to get a good feel of things.”
Hart suffered a left hand fracture just prior to the start of March, which sidelined him for most of the month. Despite missing a large portion of the season, Hart appreciates being able to bond with his teammates while forming close friendships.
“I came from a program where we were really, truly a family [at Villanova],” Hart said. “And we loved each other, we had each other’s back and and it’s very similar here.
“Off the court, we’re close. We hang out together, we love having fun. … It was fun to play with these guys and learn and grow with them.”