When Jalen Brunson found out the New York Knicks were trading for his former college teammate in Josh Hart, he was excited and overcome with joy:
Jalen Brunson’s authentic reaction to the Josh Hart trade: pic.twitter.com/G3oyqziERv— KnicksMuse (@KnicksMuse) February 9, 2023
Another member of the Knicks organization who probably had a similar reaction was head coach Tim Thibodeau. Thibodeau has always had admiration for Hart’s game and compared his style at Villanova to Jimmy Butler when he was at Marquette.
"Watching Jimmy [Butler] in college & the things he did at Marquette, Josh reminded me of that w/ the things he did at Villanova…just something about him. Those type of players, they give your team heart…toughness…goes long way"— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) February 14, 2023
—Thibs on scouting Josh Hart while in Minnesota pic.twitter.com/TbUDFIDpRT
Citing dirty work and toughness, Hart is the type of player that Thibodeau loves to utilize. A high-motor, high-energy player that knows his role and has incredible defensive instincts.
Josh. Hart— KnicksNation (@KnicksNation) February 12, 2023
Defense leads to offense! pic.twitter.com/X00vwN2TZ0
Watch Josh Hart this entire defensive possession pic.twitter.com/LA18JJcyd0— KnicksNation (@KnicksNation) February 14, 2023
Heart and toughness are not exactly things you can always teach players. Players can evolve over time but that special ability to read a game is not a quality every player possesses.
In Josh Hart’s first few games with the New York Knicks, he’s fit in perfectly.
Coming off the bench, he played 25 minutes in his debut. What was even more eye-opening is in his first game against the Utah Jazz, he checked in with 4:26 left in the third quarter and never checked out. The trust was already there from day one and Hart made a huge impact in front of the Garden faithful. He would finish with 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and four steals. Doing a little of everything, Hart would hit the dagger three to extend the Knick's lead 123-114 with 1:42 left. More importantly, he was a +5 from the floor and exemplified a winning and unselfish attitude.
Following a good debut, Hart kicked it up an extra gear against the Brooklyn Nets. Playing 27 minutes, again off the bench, he was electric. Scoring 27 points on 10-14 shooting and 4-6 three, Hart was a +25 at games end. This has been a Knicks team that was struggling on defense, ranking 27th in defensive rating in their last 15 games. Josh Hart should help transform that and the Knicks have the best net rating in the NBA in the last two games. Checking in with 3:33 left in the third quarter, he’d next check out with 1:52 left in the fourth and the game comfortably in hand.
Hart was a +9 in the final 3:33 of the third quarter and +13 in the fourth quarter.
He’s shown off his skillset in his first two games. The 27-point outburst is not something to be expected every game but it’s nice to know he has it in him. What he provides on the court is a chaotic calmness of making the right play and picking his spots. Key in on Hart next game for different stretches. Watch how he moves without the ball, chases down rebounds, and communicates on defense.
He brings that natural ability that fans wish some other players on the team would show. Hopefully, his arrival is a wake-up call for players to step up or they won’t be closing games.
If his first two games were any indication of what to expect, we will be seeing a lot more of Josh Hart going forward.
Let us know in the comments your first thoughts on the Knicks’ newest acquisition!
Follow Josh on Twitter for more Knicks news and stories