When second-year players participate in Summer League, it’s usually because they’re still a year or two away from contributing meaningful minutes to their teams. That isn’t the case for Josh Hart of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Hart appeared in 63 games for the Lakers, 23 of which he started. As a starter, the 23-year-old averaged 13.3 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal per game. Not bad for the No. 30 pick in the draft.
However, despite his success in his limited role last season, Hart wasn’t going to settle into his role as a “3-and-D” role off the bench. Over the summer, Hart tightened up his handle and tweaked his three-point shot so it’s one smooth motion, and the results have been stellar so far.
Through four games at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League, Hart is second among all scorers, averaging 22.5 points per game while hitting 42 percent of his three-point attempts. Hart shot a respectable 39.6 percent from behind the arc in his rookie season but while averaging just 3.1 attempts per game. In Vegas, Hart is averaging 8 attempts per game.
His dominance has not only caught the attention of NBA fans everywhere, but it also earned him high praise from his boss, Lakers team president Magic Johnson. In a media conference call on Friday, Johnson said that Hart’s growth in summer league should create a healthy competition for the starting shooting guard spot when training camp rolls around in September:
Before the mung bean egg ad took over the call, Magic said a lot of interesting things. One of them: "Look at Josh Hart. He’s playing unbelievable in Las Vegas. Some guys better watch out because he’s pushing to start."— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) July 13, 2018
Its widely believed that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who started 74 games for the Lakers last season, will assume his role as the team’s starting shooting guard. However, if Hart’s lights out shooting carries into training camp, Caldwell-Pope will also have to show that he, too, made improvements to his game over the summer.
Otherwise, it might be Hart’s job to lose and if Summer League has taught us anything, Hart doesn’t lose.
Clear eyes, full Hart, can’t lose.
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