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New Year’s Resolutions: Josh Hart

Josh Hart is the player that every team needs. Every game he’s ready and plays aggressive. He’s a player that never lacks in effort on a game-to-game basis and for that, he should be credited with being one of the most consistent contributors on this Laker team, whether he’s coming off the bench, taking a step-back with his role along the starters playing alongside LeBron, or stepping up his aggression on both ends of the floor in his absence.

Still, there are some details that Josh Hart could easily fix that would help the Lakers tremendously.

Shot Contests

When contesting the three-point shooter, do so in two ways; do not jump on the shot contest, or if he is committing to the shot contest, jump past the shooter’s arm on the closeout. The worst-case scenario is fouling a 3-point shooter, whether or not the shot goes in. A fair contest is all that the Lakers can ask for. If it’s a made three, good shot. Otherwise, save the fouls to be a bit more physical in the paint.

Sometimes a foul call like that can be dispiriting. You can actually see the collective reaction from the entire team. Kyle Kuzma and LeBron James have their hands up. JaVale McGee and Lonzo Ball look disappointed and helpless. Calls like that are frustrating, but reactions like that just make it tougher to get over that mental hump.

On the other hand, here, he gets his fourth foul early in the 4th quarter, after the Lakers got a considerable lead. Look at his reaction.

Losing Control

It’s funny. Just searching “Josh Hart fo–” on YouTube shows “Josh Hart Fouled Hard” as the third suggestion.

Frankly, fouls like this are tough to deal with.

Don’t lose your head. Laker fans, including myself, can share in the frustration in the lack of calls. Sure, referees can occasional miss some, and that’s fine. But for whatever reason, Josh isn’t the beneficiary of good basketball play.

Frankly, it may have started from this game. Josh Hart used to get consistent calls when attacking the hoop. This inconsistency never happened last year, but for whatever reason, there’s no call when he’s being aggressive. It’s even more frustrating when he doesn’t deliberately look like he’s seeking the And-1, but rather, just trying to absorb contact before taking a good shot at the hoop.

There’s been a couple games where he gets frustrated, walks down into the tunnel, and vents his frustration.  

He has no reason to. He’s doing the right thing on the floor and while it’s frustrating to not see that rewarded, keeping a cool head, making the right plans, and finding other ways to impact the team positively outside of scoring goes a lot farther. He’s an experienced NCAA player and a mature part of the Lakers’ youth core. Part of that is showing resilience to the circumstances, finding other ways to win, and being an example of a good teammate.

Against Dallas, he got his confidence going a bit, and despite a missed call, just laughed it up.

Even with that, the Lakers still carried momentum until the end of the game. Calls like that didn’t stop the Lakers from what they were doing.

The Lakers need him out there.

The High-Fives

Josh needs to make eye contact on his high fives. Josh is a consummate teammate and it shows when he’s trying to share the recognition in every high-five. Sometimes, his teammates don’t see it or anticipate it.

This video from Pete of @LakerFilmRoom and @LakersSBN shows how often he converts on his high-fives.

This is a Laker team with great team chemistry, from top-to-bottom. The starters celebrate the successes of all of the players, even call ups from the South Bay Lakers. They’re engaged with the game at all times and seek out each other’s success. I think that starts with LeBron James, but really extends with Lonzo Ball all the way to Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee.  

Josh Hart Is Critical To Lakers Success

Josh Hart has been an awesome player for the Lakers, on-and-off the floor. He started his rookie year with injury, and worked on adding range to his 3-point shot. Instead of taking a break this past summer, he further developed his 3-point shooting by being able to shoot accurately off motion. He was a leader for the Vegas Summer League team and that team chemistry continued onto the current Laker roster. He is also one of the best 3-point shooters on the Laker team.

There will be a time when he’ll have his number called up, and the Lakers will need him to step up in order to win a game. When it happens, we just hope Josh Hart isn’t tied up in foul trouble or frustrated by the lack of calls. We want him to play freely and aggressively.  We want him to knock down some 3-pointers. Most importantly, we want to see him get all of the high-fives.

We want to see him win.

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