While the Los Angeles Lakers search for the franchise’s next star, a few of the team’s young players are in the gym hoping one day it will be them, including Josh Hart.
The No. 30 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Hart had a surprisingly productive rookie season with the Lakers. Though his numbers weren’t jaw-dropping, Hart brought consistent energy on both ends of the floor every night and made smart decisions with the basketball.
Now heading into his second year, Hart is using the summer to do everything he can to avoid a sophomore slump. In an interview with Lakers.com reporter Mike Trudell, Hart talked about his first NBA offseason, which involves hours in the gym every day:
I’ll usually be in here at the facility for three to four hours per day, just lifting, working out, getting shots up. And then it’s just rest. Some days, I may go play pick up, but I try to get that rest, just because I’m working towards Summer League and the beginning of the season but I don’t want to be burnt out in July. Especially this being my first NBA offseason, it’s about trying to find out the balance between getting my work in and also letting my body recover.
The 23-year-old came into the NBA with a more physically mature body than his fellow rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma. That strength allowed Hart to be a force on the glass almost immediately, something he hopes becomes a staple in his game going forward.
Yeah, for a guard I just try to go out there and help my bigs out as much as I can on the glass. I think it gives the team another dimension when you have a guard that can rebound well and can push it, and find easy buckets that way. You don’t have to always get into the halfcourt and try to grind it out. Especially since we’re young and we still have to work on our attention to detail and execution with certain things, being able to get easy buckets always helps.
Hart was one of three rookie guards to record multiple 10-plus rebound double-doubles last season, according to NBA.com. Lonzo Ball and Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons were the only others. Hart finished the season in the top-10 among all rookies in rebounds per game with 4.2 RPG.
But as valuable as he is on the defensive end, he’s working on becoming a bigger factor on offense as well, tightening his handle and making tweaks to his jump shot.
I think my handle has gotten better. I’m more comfortable with the ball, for pick-and-roll scenarios and things like that. My jump shot is more fluid; more like one motion. Those are the two main things I’ve been working on, and I feel I’ve already improved since the (end of the season).
Hart showed potential as a scorer in the final few games of the regular season, dropping at least 20 points in five consecutive games. In the Lakers’ regular season finale, Hart scored a career-high 30 points on an unconscious 7-of-9 shooting from behind the arc.
Hart will have a chance to show what he’s been working on when summer league play rolls around, starting with the California Classic in Sacramento, set to tip off July 2.
While Hart is only expected to play a handful of games this year, it’s better than not seeing him play until the start of training camp.