Josh Hart having a strong debut campaign was one of the many bright spots for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2017-18 NBA season, and head trainer Gunnar Peterson believes he’s just getting started.
During the same discussion with Mike Trudell of Lakers.com in which Peterson said that the team would work on improving Lonzo Ball’s overall strength, he also explained how the training staff was planning to help Hart grow this offseason, and it appears they are hoping to avoid more of the same ankle injuries that nagged Hart during his rookie season (via Lakers.com)
Peterson: Ankle mobility, flexibility, cardiovascular capacity and core strength. Those would be things we’d focus on, or want Josh to focus on when he’s outside of here, as well as any of the other things that go along with the training program, like overall strength, core strength and so on. We do a fair amount of work on unstable surfaces, going from a stable surface to the unstable surface so that it can translate to a game, like if a player stepped on another player’s foot going for a rebound, where it’s going from stable to uneven and the ankle has to react. We want Josh’s ankle to know what that’s like. The idea is that you set them up under load, in the weight room, for what’s possibly going to happen on the court with no load, they’re going to be fine.
Hart staying healthy would obviously be a boon for the Lakers going forward, even if not all of the 19 games he didn’t play in were due to injury, as Hart took a while to seize his spot in Luke Walton’s rotation.
However, Hart played over 32 in minutes in seven of the Lakers’ last eight games, rewarding the team for his larger role by proving he was more than just a three-and-D player, averaging 16.5 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting while knocking down 39.1 percent of his threes and snagging 7.1 rebounds per game.
With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope appearing like a one-year rental, Hart has a real chance to seize a similarly huge role in the Lakers’ rotation moving forward, and if a big part of that (as obvious as this sounds) is for him to stay in the lineup. If Peterson and the rest of the Lakers’ overhauled training staff thinks they’ve found a way to increase the chances Hart stays healthy, then it’s certainly worth a shot.