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Hart's outstanding rebounding ability was one of the primary reasons why the Knicks traded for him. He's currently the best defensive rebounding guard in the NBA and possesses an exceptional skill set.
He's a gifted chaser of long rebounds, having perfected this skill during his tenure at the University of Oregon. It is this ability that ultimately attracted the Knicks to him, and it promises to be an asset for this team moving forward.
Tom Thibodeau's basketball philosophy fits perfectly, and Hart's versatility on the court will benefit New York's rotation. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Hart's rebounding prowess will be invaluable as they search for ways to counter their offensive shortcomings.
He is an impressive on-ball perimeter defender who can close out to the three-point line in drop coverage and make precise defensive rotations. This is a critical need for the Knicks, as they currently rank 28th in steals per game and 21st in second-chance points.
In addition to his rebounding, Hart can also play the point guard or shooting guard position - a role the Knicks may utilize in the coming weeks as they search for an answer to their lack of depth on the wing. As a versatile player who can score in any role, his rebounding prowess will certainly be appreciated on such a thin bench.
Although his scoring numbers have fallen off from what he was used to with the Trail Blazers this season, he has still been effective on both ends of the floor in his two games with the Knicks. His 14 points in Monday's win against the 76ers was a career high and he now has 6-of-11 from deep on the year so far.
His ability to score will be instrumental as the Knicks struggle on offense this season, ranking 30th in scoring. Adding a reliable scorer to their bench will do wonders for their confidence and allow them to focus on winning games rather than worrying about their record.
Furthermore, his versatility on the court will enable the Knicks to utilize their best players' strengths and enhance their team defense. That will be a critical element in New York's hopes of making an impressive run in this season's playoffs.
On Wednesday, the Knicks acquired Hart in a trade that sent Cam Reddish, Svi Mykhailiuk and Ryan Arcidiacono to Portland in exchange for Hart. This came on the day they secured their eighth win of the season which gave them an opportunity to stay ahead of the Pacers in their race for a playoff spot.
Last week, when the Knicks traded for Josh Hart and put him on the floor in a win over Utah, teammates and fans could not help but notice his dominance of the glass. "He goes every time," Knicks teammate RJ Barrett said of the 6-foot-4 swingman.
Hart is an invaluable asset for the Knicks, capable of closing out on defense to the three-point line and making quick defensive rotations. Additionally, his rebounding prowess will serve to strengthen their transition defense as well.
He can move quickly, pushing the pace and creating chances for his teammates in transition. Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin would do well to add him to their second unit.
But Hart's rebounding ability goes far beyond just his desire for rebounds. His knack of tracking the trajectory of shots off the dribble or off bounce passes, something many players lack, sets him apart.
As a young player in Philadelphia, Hart developed the skill of reading balls off the bat and anticipating caroms. This ability would eventually propel him to become one of the most accurate offensive rebounders in NBA history, according to him.
He studied this aspect of shooting while in college. He said he observed shots from different types of shooters and attempted to pinpoint what caused them to miss.
Though it's difficult to know exactly how much of Hart's rebounding ability comes from instinct, the Knicks clearly have a star on their hands.
His rebounding prowess will allow the Knicks to be a more dominant offensive team. Their plus-minus in offensive rebounds is +3.3 with him on the floor, which is tied for fourth in the NBA.
He leads the team in defensive rebounds per 48 minutes and has been an instrumental factor in their comeback. They are now ninth in defensive rebound rate.
Thibodeau made an informed decision by adding veteran guard Hart to a team that hasn't always been strong offensively. But how he will be utilized within the rotation remains uncertain. Hart's playmaking from the wing could potentially fit well into the starting lineup, but it will likely be most efficient when paired with Justise Winslow in the second unit.
Hart's rebounding prowess has earned him a reputation as one of the league's most efficient one-man fast break artists, and his skill with the offensive glass has seen him consistently lead his team in offensive rebounds. Additionally, Cleaning the Glass reports that Hart ranks 99th percentile for on/off differential among wings on transition attempts that go off live rebounds.
He's been an excellent defensive rebounder this season, averaging 1.12 blocks per game and having the highest percentage of blocked shots among players with at least 50 minutes of play in the league. A hard-nosed, aggressive defender who often calls out coverages to adrift teammates in the paint, he can also hold up under pressure from larger opponents.
His skill set makes him a natural fit in any lineup with the right players around him, which was the primary reason for being selected as a late first-round pick. He boasts the ideal frame for a small forward with a 6'5" wingspan and compact 205 pounds, along with his knack for scoring from half court or off-the-dribble that have made him an invaluable contributor on the court.
There are plenty of shooters with skill and instincts around the rim, but few possess such a combination. Hart has an uncanny knack for finding open looks in the middle of the paint and can get himself to the rim quickly when his timing is impeccable. His quickness to the rim also speaks volumes for him.
Hart has demonstrated his catching and shooting prowess off the ball as well, shooting 40.7 percent last year on catch-and-shoot threes that could likely increase if he continues to move the ball efficiently.
Hart honed this skill while in New Orleans, spending much of his off-the-ball time trying to find himself open on the perimeter. While it won't be easy for him to replicate this success on the other end of the floor, it should be something he can work on improving upon in his sophomore season with the Knicks, barring any major injuries.
At 10-13 in the early going of this season, rebounding was the one constant for the Knicks. That was why they traded away three players who never played: Cam Reddish, Svi Mykhailiuk and Ryan Arcidiacono for Hart (and a protected first-round pick).
Cleaning the Glass has described Hart as one of the League's premier one-man fast break artists. At 6'5", he grabs seven rebounds per game and quickly destroys lazily defending defenses in transition. Furthermore, Hart is an impressive free throw shooter (whose attempt rate increased after the All-Star break), ranking in the 98th percentile when it comes to scoring off live rebounds in transition.
For the Knicks, this is an advantageous move as they require better on-ball perimeter defenders. Their defensive rating falls below league average and they struggle to make open jump shots or create good ball movement. With Hart on the perimeter, they'll be able to close out on three-pointers more consistently - something which should help them win more games going forward.
In addition to his rebounding prowess, Hart is an impressive on-ball perimeter defender who can close out to the three-point line in drop coverage and execute precise defensive rotations. He would make an excellent addition for New York in the middle of their rotation.
He's a reliable defensive player who can be counted on to fill an effective role on the other side of the floor as well. He's an effective shot blocker and proficient pick-and-pop specialist as well.
Hart has an exceptional ability to get his teammates involved in the action. He's a skilled team player and known for his work ethic. Additionally, he grew up playing Little League baseball which taught him how to track flyballs both on the ground and in the air.
Tom Thibodeau will need to decide how much playing time Hart should get in the rotation and if he can trust him to contribute offensively in limited opportunities. With the Knicks' bench being thin this season, it will be interesting to see how Hart fits into things. But if he plays well and impresses fans, that could have an immediate effect on their team.