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Josh Hart says he’s in ‘gray area’ between young core, vets

Josh Hart says he doesn’t know where he belongs on this Lakers team, but does it really matter?

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers will go into the regular season with an interesting mix of young talent and seasoned veterans. Somewhere in-between is Josh Hart, who the Lakers took with the No. 30 pick in the last year’s NBA Draft.

Hart is just entering his second year in the league, but he told Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer that he doesn’t feel like he’s quite heralded enough to be a part of the team’s young core, but also too young to be considered part of the supporting cast of veterans.

“I’m like in a gray area,” Hart tells me after a Lakers practice in late September. Asked where he sees himself fitting into the retooled Lakers lineup, the second-year shooting guard shrugs. “I have no idea. You have the young core, and then you have the best player on the planet, and then you have the vets, so I’m just floating around. It’s challenging, but it is what it is.”

There are a few reasons Hart might feel this way.

Hart spent fours year at Villanova University, and every year except his freshman season, Hart was expected to be a leader for the Wildcats. As a four-year player out of college, the 23-year-old is still almost in the upper half of the Lakers’ roster in terms of age. Yes, the team is still that young.

However, despite that fact, Hart is still very much part of the Lakers’ young group of players. The reason Hart might feel hesitant to attach himself to the young core, though, is because he feels he and his teammates are ready to be looked at in a different light.

The term “young core” implies a group of players that aren’t ready to compete, and Hart said earlier this summer that the Lakers are ready to win now.

“Our young guys, we’re wise beyond our years in the sense of we don’t care who gets the credit, and we want to win. You can’t win when every other guy has their own agenda, but when everyone is bought in and everyone is playing together and playing basketball the right way, that’s where brotherhood forms and that’s where winning starts. Hopefully we’ll have a lot of that this year.”

Hart wasn’t a high draft pick in 2017, nor did he get much recognition for his production in his rookie year like his fellow rookie teammates last season, but that doesn’t change how important he is to everything the Lakers hope to accomplish this season, even if the majority of basketball observers as a whole don’t recognize it yet.

Whether he’s part of the young core or one of the vets, Hart will make his impact felt on and off the floor. At the end of the day, that’s all that should matter to his teammates, his coaching staff, the fans and himself.

You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.