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2020-21 Pelicans Season in Review: Josh Hart

  • Age 26
  • Experience Four seasons (two with Pelicans)
  • Games Played/Games Started 47/4

If Hart’s second campaign in New Orleans had continued as planned, maybe this season review wouldn’t be appearing today. Maybe Hart and the Pelicans would still be playing and he’d be in the midst of his NBA playoff debut. That’s not what happened, however.

Hart achieved “perfect attendance” for New Orleans through April Fool’s Day, playing in each of the team’s first 47 games, but an overtime home defeat vs. Orlando proved to be a negative turning point for he and the Pelicans. While logging 47 minutes against the Magic, Hart sustained a broken right thumb, causing him to miss the season’s final 25 games. New Orleans went 10-15 without Hart, dooming its chances of reaching the postseason.

“It was terrible timing,” Hart said of being injured. “Obviously you don’t want to have any injuries. I wanted to go into this year playing every game. That was a bummer. The timing of it, trying to get into a play-in game and put ourselves in position to get to the playoffs, that was a goal for the team and myself this year. So it was heart-wrenching a little bit. But injuries are a part of the game.”

    Josh Hart Key Stats from 2020-21 NBA Season

  • PTS Per Game 9.2
  • REB Per Game 8.0
  • AST Per Game 2.3

The Pelicans missed his intensity, hard-nosed rebounding and defending, losing seven games in the final month-plus by five points or less. Hart, whose listed nickname on Basketball Reference is “Josh Barkley” – presumably a nod to his rebounding prowess at just 6-foot-5 – set a career high in boards and other key categories. Hart’s assessment of his 2020-21 was similar to how many appraised the Pelicans’ season, marked by some good and bad.

“I didn’t shoot the ball as well as I wanted to this year,” said Hart, whose three-point percentage dipped from 34.2 to 32.6. “I wasn’t really able to get into much of a rhythm. That was frustrating. But I knew it wasn’t indicative of myself as a shooter. Defensively, I was kind of where I wanted to be. I wanted to improve, but I felt like I was good on the defensive end, and rebounding the ball at a high rate. Pleased with some of it, wasn’t pleased with some of it. But that’s the season. There are highs and lows. You’ve got to stay even-keeled.”

Hart now enters restricted free agency, which begins in August. He noted that some of what lies ahead is out of his hands. New Orleans will have the option of retaining him by matching the top offer sheet from another team.

“I don’t really have too much control, in terms of what teams call and what teams offer,” he said, before declaring his offseason plans. “I’ve got my faith in (my agents). That’s all on them. I’ll be working out, playing golf, drinking wine, trying to get ready for next season.”

Josh Hart | By The Numbers

  • 2

    Rank among all NBA guards in rebounding average (8.0) for Hart, via NBA.com. The only backcourt player with a higher average was Washington’s Russell Westbrook, who pulled down 11.5 per game. Hart was fourth in defensive rebounding (6.9).

  • 15

    Hart’s rank in career points (2,111) among all players from the 2017 draft class. He was the 30th overall pick that year, but has been more productive than many draftees selected ahead of him. Lonzo Ball is No. 11 in career scoring from that draft, with 2,540 points.

  • 28.7

    Career high in minutes per game for Hart this season. During his May 17 exit interview, the Villanova product made mention of a “reduced role” for him, perhaps alluding to his shots per 36 minutes going from 10.9 last season to 9.2.

Josh Hart | Most Notable Games from 2020-21 NBA Season

  • #1, Feb. 16, New Orleans 144, Memphis 113

    The Pelicans’ uncanny head-to-head success against the Grizzlies continued, with Hart displaying several aspects of his all-around game. He scored (season-best 27 points), crashed the backboards (nine rebounds) and sank three-pointers (season-high six treys in 11 attempts) in FedEx Forum.

  • #2, Feb. 9, New Orleans 130, Houston 101

    Just prior to the Rockets’ season collapsing, the Pelicans improved to 11-12 overall in dominant fashion. While logging 40 minutes off the bench, Hart notched a 20-point, 17-rebound game, as New Orleans won the board battle 55-37. He also nailed three threes and blocked two shots.

  • #3, March 29, New Orleans 115, Boston 109

    The Celtics saw more than enough of Hart this season, with the former Laker averaging 16.0 points and 12.5 rebounds against the green team. In this road victory three days before Hart sustained a season-ending injury, he went for 15 points and 15 rebounds, while shooting 3/5 from beyond the arc.

Sourced from Pelicans

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