New Orleans Pelicans: Josh Hart brings his team hustle and muscle

Earning a role as the high-energy seventh man more New Orleans Pelicans, Josh Hart is becoming a fan favorite among fans in his new city.

When building their roster of the future, the New Orleans Pelicans have prioritized high-character players and hard works to shape their future. Seemingly, they’ve found someone to perfectly match that mold in third-year shooting guard Josh Hart.

Not owning the household familiarity as some of his teammates, Hart is slowly but surely carving out a place in the hearts of fans around the Cresent City.

More than just the funny gestures after a missed high-five with a teammate or the meme-worthy looks he’ll give an official after a missed call, Hart’s hard work is paying off for Alvin Gentry and his Pelicans’ teammates.

Coming over as the lowest-floor, yet lowest ceiling prospect in the trade with the Los Angeles Lakers that netted himself, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, in addition to a haul of draft selections to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis, Hart was always seemed to be who could be plugged into just about any NBA situation.

While Hart averages 10.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, and shoots 35.4% from three on 5.9 attempts per contest, it really takes watching the Pelicans closely to understand how far his impact goes for this team.

Upon watching a game, a viewer will see Hart giving up his body to the floor for a loose ball, work around a 7-foot center for a huge rebound, or finding ways to pluck the ball away from a handler on a key possession.

Checking the box scores after Pelicans games just won’t reveal the Josh Hart that fans know on the court.

In particular, his outstanding work on the glass goes a long way for the New Orleans Pelicans.

Owning the second-best defensive rebound rate on the team behind Derrick Favors, Hart hauls in 17.6% the rebounds that come in his direction. That ranks in the 94th percentile among his position group, per Cleaning the Glass.

Not just grabbing boards for himself, Hart works like crazy against interior defenders to box out, creating rebounds for his teammates. That’s why when he’s on the court, the Pelicans grab +0.9 more offensive rebounds (63rd percentile) and allow -2.8% less opposing offensive rebounds (87th percentile).

By battling on the offensive glass, Hart helps create second possessions for his team, oftentimes creating opportunities for a crucial three or even just to give the Pelican an extra possession late in a game.

Developing well with the New Orleans Pelicans, Josh Hart is a two-way rotational force that should help shape their team’s future.

Certainly not a perfect player, but someone who exudes the energy and effort teams desire from all angles of their roster, Josh Hart is a valuable member of this Pelicans roster heading into the future.

Playing in 46 games this season and starting on 12 occasions, the New Orleans Pelicans feel the effects that Hart brings to the floor on a nightly basis.

When Josh Hart is in the Pelicans’ lineup, he’s posting a +4.3 net rating, which ranks in the 77th percentile among his position group according to Cleaning the Glass.

However, his defense has been the most impactful aspect of his game with the New Orleans Pelicans. When Hart is on the floor, teams are -4 points worse (82nd percentile) and shoot -1.9% worse (80th percentile), all wrapped in a bow with the guard’s 1.6% steal rate, which ranks in the 83rd percentile.

What we’re starting to see in Hart is a potential All NBA defender in the making. Hart is one of the oldest Pelicans, as he’s just 25 days short of his 25th birthday as of this morning, but playing in his third year of NBA basketball, it seems that he could have a lot of time left in the league.

Perhaps the most important element of Josh Hart’s tenure with the New Orleans Pelicans? He’s a pretty great guy. Loved by his teammates and almost impossible to hate, Hart was one of the first new Pelicans to sing the praises of his new city.

“I’m very loyal to [the organization I’m playing for]. When I’m at a place where I’m wanted, I want to give that love right back. I want to give back to the fans just because of their support and their love for the Pelicans, the energy and excitement we have around this team,” Josh Hart told Pelicans.com before the season. “I felt like that was something for myself and for this team that we had to do.”

Saying and doing all the right things with the personality and work ethic to back it up, Hart seems like a great fit for the direction of these New Orleans Pelicans.

Drafted with the last pick of the first round in the 2017 NBA Draft, the former National Championship-winning Villanova Wildcat is giving New Orleans plenty of reasons to fall in love.

With his blend of energy, effort, and, well, heart, the New Orleans-loving guard is helping to build an identity that New Orleans basketball has longed for since the Hornets came to town in 2002.

Next: New Orleans Pelicans can set tone before All-Star Break

As this young cluster of New Orleans Pelicans continue to blend and learn to play together, keeping someone like Josh Hart in town seems like a good way to build culture heading into the future.

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