At the 2017 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected Lonzo Ball (No. 2), Kyle Kuzma (No. 27), Josh Hart (No. 30) and Thomas Bryant (No. 42). Although Ball and Kuzma received much of the attention, Hart eventually became a part of the team’s young core.
When healthy and given an opportunity, Hart averaged 13.3 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists in 23 starts. Along with nearly shooting 40 percent from the 3-point line, the 23-year-old established himself as one of the better rebounders at his position.
With Hart looking to build on his solid rookie season, he is adding another layer to his game during the offseason.
In an interview with Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, assistant coach Miles Simon explained how he’s helping develop Hart’s ball-handling skills for the 2018-19 NBA season:
“Josh Hart didn’t get a ton of touches bringing the ball up the floor last year, so I’d never really have Josh bring the ball up the floor in drills. But this offseason, we want him to learn to handle the ball more, and run a pick and roll, run a drag … or since he’s such a great rebounder, if he gets a defensive rebound, instead of outletting to Zo, Zo is going to run and Josh is allowed to push this year because he’s more comfortable with his handle.”
As the Lakers played with the third-fastest pace in the entire league during the 2017-18 season, Hart’s development as a ballhandler adds another dimension to head coach Luke Walton’s system. Instead of Hart rebounding and looking for Lonzo Ball, he will have opportunities to initiate the offense.
With all teams looking to have as many playmakers as possible, the Lakers are on the right path in their developmental process. While Ball is the team’s point guard, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle have both showcased their playmaking abilities during their time in Los Angeles.
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