Pick #30 in the 2017 NBA Draft was the much-accomplished Josh Hart. The former Villanova Wildcats guard had an excellent career on The Main Line, capping it off with Big East Player of the Year honors this past season. Hart also won Big East Tournament MOP for the second time in his career and, of course, was an integral part of ‘Nova’s captivating National Championship run in March/April 2016.
But now, Hart has traveled from one coast to the other, as he begins anew with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers, who had three first rounders this year, spent the previous picks on Utah’s Kyle Kuzma and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball prior to picking Hart with the final pick in the first round.
Silver Screen & Roll’s Chinmay Vaidya, who like myself and your fellow co-manager Rob went to Mizzou, was nice enough to answer some questions about how he sees Hart fitting in with the Lakers.
Q: Did you expect the Lakers to take Hart or did you not believe he would be on their radar?
I did not expect the Lakers to take Hart given the players on the board at the time, but I do believe he was on their radar due to his outstanding shooting ability. Hart converted on 40 percent of his threes last season at Villanova, and the Lakers lack outside shooting. I’m sure the team was also intrigued by his defensive skills and trading down to get him was a smart move. The Lakers had a need at shooting guard and Hart addressed that.
Q: How do you see him fitting with the Lakers?
Here’s a hot take: I expect Hart to be the starting shooting guard for the Lakers on opening day. I think his shooting efficiency and defensive chops give him the nod over Jordan Clarkson. Hart’s consistent improvement at Villanova is another reason I think he’ll push for the starting job. He’s going to take the pressure off Ball defensively by picking up the other team’s top guard and he can space the floor. In short, he’s going to fit in just fine.
Q: What type of role do you think he’ll have with the Lakers in his first year in LA?
As I said above, I think Hart is going to be the starting shooting guard at the beginning of the season. Unless the Lakers make major moves in free agency, they’re probably not going to be competing for a playoff spot. It’s likely Hart’s minutes get cut into as Walton tries to get all the young guys playing time. I think it’s safe to say that Hart won’t be overtaken as the starting shooting guard by anyone currently on the Lakers roster.
I see him being a solid two-way player for Los Angeles who benefits from having a great point guard. Hart’s going to get a lot of open looks and easy shots and if he converts them, his numbers will be very impressive. The Lakers need someone to hit shots consistently and Clarkson hasn’t proven he can, which allows Hart to step up and grab a starting job in his rookie season.
He’s not going to make noise for Rookie of the Year, but Hart is going to be a solid NBA player for a long time.