The former 30th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Josh Hart was a proven winner at Villanova and a first-team All-American in his senior season. Hart took some time to develop as an elite talent at Villanova, despite stepping in and contributing from the jump. Similarly, Hart was able to immediately step in during his rookie season and make an impact for the Lakers. Unfortunately, this past season was marred by injuries and Hart’s performance drastically suffered.
With a clean bill of health heading into the 2019-2020 season, could the continued development of Josh Hart be exactly what the Lakers have been looking for?
Could Josh Hart Getting Over the Injury Bug Be the Key to the Lakers Woes?
Right now, arguably the biggest need for the Lakers is a consistent outside shooter to run alongside Lonzo Ball and LeBron James. During Hart’s rookie season, he shot a blistering 40% from three, showing that he has the ability to consistently hit the open look. However, Hart’s shooting percentage from deep dropped nearly seven percent in his second season, possibly due to his lingering knee injury. If the knee injury really was behind Hart’s drastic drop in shooting percentage, his return to health should be a huge piece for the Lakers moving forward.
Outside of shooting the deep ball, Hart is a very high IQ defender and extremely capable if forced to switch onto a bigger man and hold his own down low. While Hart showed trouble keeping up with fast guards last season, this can also possibly be attributed to the fact that he was playing on a bum knee for a portion of the season. In spite of that, Hart was generally an overall plus defender known for making big impact plays on that side of the ball.
If Hart is back to full health next season and his knee turns out to be the reason for the three-point struggles and defensive deficiencies, Hart just might be the perfect complimentary piece to play alongside James and Ball.
What Else Do the Lakers Need to Improve?
The Lakers need considerable help in terms of finding a long-term (or at least LeBron-term) option down low. With money to play with – especially if burned by the big name free agents – and a loaded class of quality big men, the Lakers should be able to find something out there that works.
Laker fans have hoped of making a move for Willie Cauley-Stein since LeBron announced he was taking his talents to LA and could be a possible option as a buy-low candidate coming off a somewhat off-year. Cauley-Stein wasn’t necessarily bad more so that he didn’t take another drastic step of improvement. The Kings seem to like him quite a bit and have the money to keep him around, he’s also a restricted free agent. That said, if they get cocky trying to keep their cap space open for a max player, the Lakers could, MAYBE, swoop in and make a play on WCS.