Every NBA championship team has to have someone who does all of the little things for the team to get to the top. Now I’m not predicting a Lakers’ championship this year, or even in the next couple years, but Los Angeles certainly found their guy, and his name is Josh Hart.
Hart is a winner, and that may sound cliche, but it’s true. Hart was selected for the Big East All-Rookie team his freshman year and then followed that up as the Big East Sixth Man of the Year the following season. Hart was also the most outstanding player of the Big East tournament that same season. In his junior year, Hart was a unanimous selection for first-team All-Big East and named a third-team All-American while also leading the Villanova Wildcats to their second National Championship in program history. For his senior season, Hart went on to be a consensus selection for first-team All-American, while also winning Big East Player of the Year honors and being named first-team All-Big East for the second consecutive year.
I realize I listed of a bunch of individual accolades for Hart, but it doesn’t even truly reflect his style of play or what he’s about on the floor. Hart is a selfless player who is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win a game. When you watch him play it is clear that he is a team-first guy.
Hart as a first round pick, selected 30th overall, still wasn’t expected to produce much for the Lakers. Often times, it’s a question mark if draft picks in the late first round will even regularly contribute. In 2017, Kyle Kuzma was selected three picks ahead of Josh Hart. Kuzma had a stellar rookie season and stole the spotlight from the other young players on the Lakers like Brandon Ingram and fellow rookie Lonzo Ball. Kuzma deserved every bit of the attention coming his way too, averaging 16 points per game while scoring from every area of the floor. Lonzo struggled mightily in his rookie season, and the Lakers were just awful. However, Josh Hart’s play style never changed. He did all of the little things that don’t seem to capture the attention, but they are plays that matter. Hart gave us a glimpse of what could be in his rookie season; the problem is not many people were seeing it happen because of how bad the Lakers were last season.
Fast forward to the start of this NBA season, as the Lakers are now must-see TV with LeBron James in town, and Josh Hart is putting the NBA on notice. Hart has come off the bench and, at times, looked like the second or third best player on the team. Hart has scored 20 points twice already in just three games, while also recording at least two steals in each contest.
Add Josh Hart to my favorite player list. Fantastic sequence pic.twitter.com/poabb8Ysgj
— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) October 23, 2018
Despite the Lakers starting 0-3 to begin the season, it’s clear that the Lakers are on their way up. LeBron will always be LeBron. Brandon Ingram looks like he’s ready to take the next step, as well as Kyle Kuzma. Lonzo is shooting the ball better than he did last season but we’ll have to wait and see if that lasts.
But Josh Hart, he’s putting the NBA on notice. Hart absolutely needs to start over Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Hart needs to be on the floor in the fourth quarter when the Lakers are trying to close it out. Hart continually makes plays like the one I added above. He can shoot. He’s a tremendous finisher at the rim. He competes on every single play. Josh Hart is the early favorite for the Most Improved Player award. It’s natural to question if this level of play is sustainable, but I believe it is because Josh Hart has done this his whole career.
Now you’ve met the unsung hero of the Los Angeles Lakers: Josh Hart.