When Donovan Mitchell attacks the rim, most people either get out of way or don’t even make an effort to contest the shot. For one, he is the 2018 Slam Dunk Champion and two, he is a great finisher who can unleash tricks up his sleeve at any given moment. Los Angeles Lakers rookie Josh Hart, however, offered something new.
In their game against the Jazz, Hart courageously challenged dunk champ Mitchell who went up for a nasty finish. It looked like a poster in the making. Yet with his perfect timing, Hart got nothing but pumpkin.
Below is the video as posted by Bleacher Report:
Josh Hart denies Mitchell 👀 pic.twitter.com/5ioWPhXjnY
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 8, 2018
Hart’s block wasn’t just a fluke. Defense is actually one of the 23-year-old rookie’s specialty. Last year, the Lakers were dead last with a defensive rating of 110.6. This year with Hart in the lineup, they are 13th with a defensive rating of 105.8.
Hart was actually sidelined for several games due to a broken hand. While he was out, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register reported that Hart was eager to return back to the team and help on defense.
“We want to be a top 10 defensive team,” Hart said, “and that’s something I pride myself on and I want to go whenever I’m out there I want to help on the defensive end.”
During the All-Star break, head coach Luke Walton challenged his team to be a top-10 defensive team over the final 25 games.
“We have those type of goals set up so even though the playoffs are not within reach, there are still things we are striving for,” Walton said.
With a few more games to go, the Lakers may have achieved their goal. And Hart’s presence was a good part of it.