One of the most common sights at the UCLA Health Training Facility last season was Josh Hart working with assistant coach Miles Simon after practice. Those hours of collaboration began to pay off toward the end of the regular season and has carried over into the Las Vegas Summer League, where Hart is averaging 23.3 points per game in just 27.3 minutes, with Simon as the summer league head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Much of their work together has revolved around Hart’s ability to shoot off of the dribble, and he’s demonstrated a great deal of improvement in this respect. His dribble pickups have been quick and controlled, with a strong preference toward bringing his shooting (right) hand to the ball after gathering with his left.
Hart will need to be able to mix that up and bring his off-hand to the ball off of dribble pickups with his right hand in the future to maximize his ability to do this, but he’s made excellent progress.
Let’s take a closer look at his growth as a scorer.
Hart’s progress has him on the precipice of being a legitimate three-level scorer, as he adds dribble pull-ups to his repertoire of catch and shoot 3’s and clever drives to the basket that we saw last season. He’s continued to progress at the latter, utilizing unusual footwork around the rim that allows him to exploit creases in the defense that other players can’t get through.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the presumptive starter next year, and capable of hitting 3-point shots off of pindown and stagger screens in a way that Hart has yet to demonstrate. That is the next step of his progression as a scorer, and he’s close to being able to take it.
Rob Pelinka has emphasized that all four starting spots alongside LeBron James are up for grabs in training camp, and if Josh Hart keeps this up, he’s going to make a convincing case to take one of them.