Despite only having a year in the NBA under his belt, 23-year-old sophomore guard Josh Hart will be expected to be a leader for the Los Angeles Lakers next year.
Part of that has to do with the fact that Hart spent four years at Villanova, but it mostly is because of the culture head coach Luke Walton has had a hand in building since he signed on in 2016.
Much like the Golden State Warriors before their rapid ascent to power, the Lakers didn’t have a clear-cut leader on the team last year because of how young they were. Instead, each player is expected to hold the other accountable, regardless of their age or experience.
Adding LeBron James, Rajon Rondo and the other veterans to that type of mix this season is going to change that, but Hart said during an appearance on Spectrum Sportsnet LA before throwing out the first pitch on the Dodgers’ “Lakers Night” that he believes that the unselfishness of the Lakers’ young core makes them easy to compete with right away.
“You have someone like that who has been to eight straight NBA Finals and you mix him in with guys who want to win, guys who are hungry and guys that want to prove themselves, I think that’s the biggest thing,” Hart said.
“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.”
Adding a superstar player to any team is never easy. The Miami Heat struggled early on with James in 2010 and the Warriors have had their share of rough patches with Kevin Durant.
It would be silly to think the same won’t happen with James and the Lakers this season, especially because James has never played on a team this young and inexperienced, but the attitude from the young guys thus far makes one believe they will figure things out sooner rather than later, because they do seem to have a bunch of guys that are far more worried about wins and losses than their own stats.
Yes, the Lakers are young and they will have stretches of games where they look their age, but they’ve made it clear they want to win now. With LeBron James, they’ll have every opportunity to do that. With those wins, accolades and recognition will come for young players like Hart, big stats or not.
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