Josh Hart could become a culture builder for Pelicans’ identity

Josh Hart could become a culture builder for Pelicans’ identity

New Orleans Pelicans have been really inconsistent this season, however they have a good young core to build a top team in the Western Conference.

Zion Williamson has been the main ingredient of thatnotion, while Brandon Ingram is also getting his props for becoming a pure scorer the last two seasons.

However, the Pelicans will need to focus on building a team with the right pieces to surround their young stars, and Josh Hart seems to be a critical part of the process.

Hustle, Hustle and Hustle

The Pelicans are one of the worst teams in the defensive end allowing 115.5 points per 100 possessions being ranked 29th in the NBA.

Only the Kings have a worse rating in defense with 118 points. New Orleans is allowing their opponents to shoot a 39-percent(3rd worst) from deep and a 67-percent (4th worst) from the restricted area.

Stan Van Gundy’s team is definitely better with Josh Hart on the floor allowing 113 points per 100 possessions. It’s the third best among the New Orleans’ squad and the best among his teammates with more than 400 minutes on the court this season.

Hart is limiting his opponent’s to 46-percent, which ranks among the best in Pelicans’ team, and he has been forcing the forth most turnovers for his team(8.4). He’s also limiting his opponents to a 38-percent from deep, which is not great but definitely the best in his team.

Hart is also a great rebounder averaging a career-high 7.6 per game. The ability of Hart rebounding the ball helps Stan Van Gundy to rely on undersized lineups with Zion Williamson in the power forward position.

The 6’5” wing has also improved his ability on creating for his teammates increasing his AST Ratio to 19.9-percent (from 14.1%) and reducing his turnover ratio to 7.3-percent (from 9.3-percent). He also averages a career-high 2.1 assists per game.

At the same time, his hustle is unmatchable as he already has five double-double this season, while he only had 10 during the 2019/2020 campaign.

During the last game against Boston, where the Pelicans came back from a 24-point deficit to win in OT, the former Villanova forward/guard was a crucial part for his team.

Defense, Defense and Defense

Hart was a plus-24.7 net rating in his 36 minutes of play helping the Pelicans complete the biggest comeback in franchise history vs. Celtics. Hart guarded Tatum for 7:53 minutes and limited him to a 33.3-percent from the field.

The Pelicans’ forward is doing a great job facing some of the best offensive players this season and limiting them under 40-percent shooting.

In particular, he also held Kawhi Leonard to a 40-percent clip on 32 possessions and Jordan Clarkson on a 33.3-percent on 33 possessions.

Those two along with Tatum shot 12-out-of-34 from the field with Hart guarding them in their respective games. The three of them are averaging 20+ points per game during this season.

Moreover, Hart is leading the league among guards in contested shots averaging nearly nine per game, which are a result of his quick feet and his constant energy.

Despite New Orleans poor overall defensive record, Hart is a great individual defender and that’s an important factor for his team.

He has the ability guard bigger opponents and make them score less than their average. Although, Pelicans need to improve their overall defensive communication to become a legit playoff team, players like Hart is a must on a winning situation.

Those players could become the spark for New Orleans and Stan Van Gundy to build a solid identity on both ends of the floor.

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