The Los Angeles Lakers’ have posted the worst defensive efficiency in the NBA over the last two seasons, and haven’t gotten off to a strong start on that end during their first three preseason games.
The Lakers have been bad enough on the defensive end so far to leave Lakers head coach Luke Walton questioning the team’s “effort” after their second-straight loss to the Denver Nuggets, a defensive performance Lakers forward Julius Randle said there was “no excuse” for.
Quotes like that may not exactly inspire optimism about the Lakers starting to have more success on defense anytime soon, but that will be changing soon if Lakers rookie guard Josh Hart has anything to say about it, and he explained why to Bill Oram of the Orange County Register:
“I take defense personally,” Hart said. “When somebody scores on me I don’t care if it’s a good move or what. That infuriates me. I don’t like getting scored on, I take that personally.”
Hart’s official stat line in his first appearance of preseason action is lost to time because of a glitch to the NBA’s new stat system, but he played well enough in his debut to impress Walton. Additionally, his defensive verve might just be enough to earn him playing time in the Lakers’ crowded backcourt rotation.
Regardless of how much heart Hart can add to the Lakers’ defense in whatever playing time he gets, he likely won’t be able to fix it on his own, no matter how “personally” he takes getting scored on.
Still, taking that mindset is a rare thing for a rookie, which is usually why they’re so bad defensively in their first year. It remains to be seen how good Hart can actually be on that end, but the Lakers have reason to be excited about his potential if he’s already taking a defense-first mindset to begin his rookie campaign.