Five things to know about Pelicans guard Josh Hart

1)      The rare four-year player in college who went on to be selected in the first round of an NBA draft (2017), the 24-year-old Hart is a native of the Washington, D.C., area. He was just the 94th-ranked recruit in the ’13 high school class, but went on to earn All-American status for the Villanova Wildcats, who won the NCAA championship during Hart’s junior season of ’15-16. In the months prior to Hart becoming a first-round pick, the website NBADraft.net gave this unique description of his background: “A high-character kid with a strong family support system, was an Eagle scout as a youth.”

2)      Even before he officially became a member of the Pelicans, Hart seemed to quickly endear himself to the New Orleans fan base by frequently posting on social media about his excitement to join a new team and live in the Crescent City. As Hart put it in a response to a recent tweet by a fan trying to compare New Orleans to Hart’s previous NBA home, Hart tweeted, “I love my new city, so…”

3)      Hart was the ’18 NBA Summer League MVP, leading the Lakers’ entry to a second-place finish among the 30 teams. He averaged 24.2 points and 5.2 rebounds in Las Vegas, putting up 37 points in one game – which, for what it’s worth, set the Lakers’ all-time record for single-game scoring at summer league. The previous mark was established by Lonzo Ball (36 points), who will be an NBA teammate of Hart’s for a third consecutive season, spanning both players’ pro careers.

4)      Hart appeared in 67 of Los Angeles’ first 71 games last season, but had to sit out the final 11 contests of the regular season, undergoing knee surgery. Hart attributed some of the wear and tear on his knee to a busy ’18 offseason, in which he had played summer league and took very little time off as he prepared for the next regular season. Although Hart has primarily been a reserve in the NBA, he started a total of 45 games for the Lakers among his 130 official games played.

5)      Three-point shooting is one of Hart’s strengths. He ranked fifth on Los Angeles in treys made per 36 minutes last season, at 1.9, just behind Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (2.7), Lance Stephenson (2.3), LeBron James (2.1) and Kyle Kuzma (2.0). Whether it was health-related or not, Hart slumped down the stretch of the ’18-19 regular season from beyond the arc, which led to him finishing at 33.6 percent in that category, down from 39.6 as a rookie. His major counting stats were a virtual carbon copy of what he produced in his first season (7.9 ppg, then 7.8 ppg, as well as 1.3 apg, then 1.4 apg), but his efficiency dipped. However, his role fluctuated greatly from month to month, such as going from averaging 28.3 minutes per game in January to just 15.2 in February.