The Los Angeles Lakers seemingly have come away victorious during the 2017 NBA Draft, as they not only kept their top-three protected pick, but also secured three other draft picks. Following Lonzo Ball were Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart, with Thomas Bryant later being selected in the second round.
While Kuzma may very well end up becoming one of the steals of the draft, Hart has also shown promise in a limited role. With Ball sitting out most of the preseason, he and the rest of the competing guards were able to get in the rotation, getting their first taste of NBA action.
Following Friday’s victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, head coach Luke Walton had a lot to say about his young roster, including the performance of the 30th overall pick. While Hart was able to make his presence felt defensively, Walton stated that the rookie needs to adjust to what calls he will be able to get away with, via Serena Winters of Lakers Nation:
Luke Walton on Josh Hart: ‘He’s tough man, loves to mix it up.’ Also said that’s going to lead to plenty of foul calls on the rookie.
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 14, 2017
Hart had two key plays that sealed the victory over the Clippers, including a breakaway score off a steal that he was two steps ahead of. He then was able to follow up a missed lay-up on a fastbreak for another bucket, which gave the Lakers a six-point lead.
At the same time, Hart was displeased with a few calls that went against him Friday night. As a rookie, he still needs to grasp what calls the referees will make and which moves that he can get away with. Playing against better competition, Hart will have to work through his kinks and develop his overall basketball IQ.
The 22-year-old has phenomenal lateral quickness and continually hustles throughout the game, which are strong pillars to build upon. Once he watches film and acclimates himself more so with the coaching staff, he can become an effective defensive presence off the bench for the Lakers.