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Josh Hart applauded for his hustle and winning plays, gets the start for Team USA

Hart doing Hart things

2023 FIBA World Cup - USA Men’s National Team v Jordan Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

On Monday, Team USA came away with a dominant 109-81 victory against Greece and Knicks wing Josh Hart was one of the stand outs in the game. Hart scored six points, dished out five assists, and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds in what can only be described as a just another Josh Hart-esque game. The veteran seemed to be everywhere, diving for loose balls, coming up with every rebound, making the extra pass, and doing whatever it took for his team to come out on top.

“He’s a hardworking guy that has the ability to do things on the court that every other NBA player does, but he takes pride in the little things on a nightly basis,” said Knicks and Team USA teammate Jalen Brunson during his post-game press conference. Moments later, Team USA coach Steve Kerr sang his praises as well, saying, “People ask ‘what position does he play?’ He plays winner. I don’t know what position he plays, but he gets loose balls and guards anybody. At one point (USA assistant coach Erik Spoelstra) turned to me and said ‘some people get 50-50 balls, but he gets the 30-70 balls.”

And for his hustle, heart (pun intended) and impact, Hart was rewarded. In today’s 110-62 win over Jordan, Hart replaced Brandon Ingram in the starting lineup and joined fellow Villanova players Mikal Bridges, and the aforementioned Brunson. “You just don’t lose it,” Bridges said. “Playing with JB all those years and Josh as well, it’s just second nature. All those practices and games we had at ’Nova, it just feels so natural.”

When talking about the sudden lineup change, Kerr did mention Ingram’s part in this as well. “The tricky part with FIBA is you only have a few weeks to figure out your team, as opposed to an NBA season where we have six, seven, eight months,” Kerr said. “We just felt like it was important to take a look at Josh with the starting group and Brandon with the next group and see if the combinations fit.”

As Kerr alluded to, part of the lineup change is linked to Ingram struggling mightily to find his rhythm. The team’s coaching staff likely wants to try to get him going as much as possible as they head to the elimination stages where they’ll be challenged by better opponents. However, it cannot be understated just how much of an impression Hart has left, and how quickly he has done it.

Kerr has yet to commit to the new lineup and still seems undecided on what the starting lineup will look like going forward, but it was nice to see a pair of Knicks repping the country as starters while fellow Knick RJ Barrett also does his thing for Team Canada.