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Villanova’s Josh Hart Is A Winner

Josh Hart is the latest four-year player looking to make an immediate impact in the NBA, writes Benny Nadeau.

Ben Nadeau

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Josh Hart is a winner.

Hart is an All-American, a former Sixth Man of the Year turned finalist for the Naismith Player of the Year. He’s the reigning Big East Player of the Year and was recently given the Julius Erving Award as well, an honor bestowed on the NCAA’s best small forward. Josh Hart is a National Champion, a two-time Big East tournament MVP and as accomplished as four-year players come in collegiate basketball.

Now, Hart wants to prove he can win in the NBA too.

In 36 games in 2016-17, Hart averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game for a Villanova Wildcats squad that made a serious run at back-to-back NCAA titles. Before their early tournament exit at the hands of Wisconsin, Hart led Villanova to a No. 1 seed and an overall record of 31-3.

Furthermore, Hart joined Kerry Kittles as the only two Villanova players to have at least 1,800 points, 700 rebounds, 250 assists and 150 steals in their careers.

Despite the impressive resume, Hart is currently slated as a second round selection almost across the board. And while the 22-year-old is getting looked over in favor of younger, more explosive athletes, Hart is certain that he can provide mature and versatile basketball skills that teams can utilize immediately.

“I’m not going to label myself as a shooting guard,” Hart said. “I’m not going to label myself as a small forward. I’m a basketball player who can play four different positions on the court — and defend four different positions on the court.”

After his junior year — and, of course, a national championship — Hart toyed with the idea of jumping to the NBA and attended the Combine last spring, but eventually returned for one final run. Even with the extra year of mileage on his legs, plenty of teams should line up to take a swing on the flexible, well-rounded Hart. With no shortage of confidence, Hart believes he’s ready to contribute in year one — ask him to jump, he’ll ask how high.

“Guys that have seen me play at Villanova know that I’m going to be the one that’s defending, you know, down on the floor for a loose ball at the end of the game to seal a victory. That’s what I do and I think that’s how I fit in.”

Buddy Hield, another four-year player drafted recently, actually had a comparable season as a senior for Oklahoma back in 2015-16. Although Hield scored about six more points per game, he tallied 5.7 rebounds and two assists per game on 50 percent shooting in a Consensus All-American campaign. Sound familiar? Even at the age of 22, Hield’s strong season and deep tournament run — which ended, ironically, at the hands of Hart and Villanova in the Final Four — led to him flying up draft boards, eventually selected by New Orleans with the No. 6 overall pick last June.

Unfortunately for Hart, the crowded freshman class this year has made the draft scene tougher to navigate than it was for Hield.

Undoubtedly then, Hart will look to follow in the footsteps of Malcolm Brogdon, an early second round selection in 2016 and current contender for Rookie of the Year honors. Brogdon graduated after playing four seasons in five years at Virginia and became a mainstay in head coach Jason Kidd’s rotation for the playoff-bound Milwaukee Bucks. His ability to knock down the open three-pointer and facilitate the offense on a Giannis Antetokounmpo-focused team awarded Brogdon big minutes almost immediately — most often at the expense of veterans like Jason Terry and Matthew Dellavedova.

While the Brogdon comparisons leap off the page on their own, Hart hasn’t shied away from connecting the dots for any franchises lagging behind the pack.

“I think saying a four-year guy is old is foolish, to be honest,” Hart said. “That’s the first time that somebody at 21 or 22 is old. I don’t think that’s smart. . . When it comes to playing this game, and knowing how to play the game and knowing how to impact the team offensively and defensively, that’s what four-year guys are.

“That’s why you see Malcolm Brogdon being successful, maybe being Rookie of the Year. You have Jimmy Butler, you can go down the list with so many four-year guys that keep it going and make an impact right away.”

Even with Hart’s successful collegiate stint, Brogdon’s status as a frontrunner for major award honors should do the former Wildcat plenty of favors before next month’s draft.

Hart is no stranger to the big moment either, always eager to hold the ball when the game is on the line. From dashing Seton Hall’s dreams of back-to-back Big East crowns to sinking DePaul last December, Hart doesn’t just swim in important situations, he thrives in them.

Of course, you won’t find Hart’s name atop any category as a league leader and his 18.7 points per game slotted him in at 66th-best in Division I in 2016-17 — but to him, personal statistics have never mattered all that much anyways.

“[I’m] someone who’s a winner,” he said. “Anybody that knows me, knows where I come from, definitely with Villanova, knows it’s about winning. It’s not about the individual, it’s not about an ego, I’m a team player. I don’t care about going out and scoring 25 [points] as long as we win — I’m going to do the little things.”

At the Combine, Hart noted that he had talked to the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans, Miami Heat, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks thus far in his pre-draft efforts. This week, he worked out for the Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets, but that number could continue to rise over the next month. For teams looking to add a strong perimeter defender with a penchant for the big moment, Hart fits the bill.

In a year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Hart knocking down shots in the postseason for a contender like the Utah Jazz or Houston Rockets, and, as of publishing, he’s been mocked to those franchises at No. 42 and 45, respectively. Even scarier would the prospect of San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich getting ahold of Hart at No. 29 as a potential Patty Mills replacement like CBS Sports predicts.

No matter where he goes, however, Hart is ready to do whatever it takes to win.

“It’s not ‘OK, we’ll groom him for two, three years and see what happens,'” Hart said. “There’s no seeing what happens with a four-year guy, you know what you’re getting.”

And what you’re getting in Josh Hart is a bonafide winner.

Ben Nadeau is a Boston-based writer in his first year with Basketball Insiders. For the last five seasons, he covered the Brooklyn Nets for The Brooklyn Game.

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: The Top of The 2018 Draft Is Getting Crowded

The top of the projected 2018 NBA Draft is starting to get interesting, mainly because so many potential draft prospects are having incredibly dominant seasons.

Steve Kyler

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Things Are Getting Interesting

While the projected 2018 NBA Draft class doesn’t seem to have a future superstar sitting at the top of the board, there are potentially four players that are really looking the part of future NBA All-Stars and it’s making the top of the class very interesting.

Say what you want about stats, but there is little doubt that the numbers some of the top prospects are posting so far this season are pretty compelling.

Duke’s Marvin Bagley III is averaging 21.1 points per game to go with 10.9 rebounds. His 61.7 percent field goal average is impressive, especially when you consider he’s knocking in 34.6% of his three (9-26 on the season). Bagley has a 32.2 PER with a 64.6 True Shooting percentage and a 26.7 usage rate. In short, highly productive almost everywhere without having to own the basketball.

Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton is posting similarly ridiculous numbers, 19.5 points per game with 11.4 rebounds. His 61.7 percent from the field also comes with an impressive 30.4 percent three-point average (7-23 on the season). Ayton’s 32.3 PER is a nose higher than Bagley. He is also posting a whopping 65.6 True Shooting percentage with a 26.7 percentage usage rate. Again, highly productive in every way without being so ball-dominant to skew the numbers. Ayton hit the ground running at Arizona and really hasn’t had a bad game yet.

Oklahoma’s Trae Young has burst into the top-five discussion in a huge way. His 6’2 180-pound frame looks small on the court, but his game has been tremendous. Young is posting 28.7 points per game with a monster 10.4 assists per contest. He is grabbing 3.5 rebounds while shooting 48.5 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from two-point range and a scorching 41.1 percent from three (44 of 107 on the season). Young’s 38 PER is tops in all of college basketball. He has a 65.2 True Shooting percentage and a 36.1 usage rate. Unlike Bagley and Ayton, Young does control the ball, but that’s typical for an impact scoring point guard. He offsets the ball dominance with incredible assist numbers. He is also pretty spectacular to watch.

International phenom Luka Dončić is having a solid season in his own right, although his averages are lower because he doesn’t play the same volume of minutes as the NCAA collegiate prospects. In 26 games in both the Euroleague and the ACB, Dončić is posting 16.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per contest. He is shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from international three (48 of 135 on the season). Dončić is posting a 28.2 PER in Euroleague play and a 23.7 PER in ACB play. Dončić’s True Shooting numbers in Euroleague play are impressive at 66.2 percent. In ACB play his number drop a bit to 58.1 percent. His usage numbers illustrate the same slip. In Euroleague play, he posts a 30 percent usage rate while posting a 26.6 percent usage rate in ACB. Dončić typically plays more minutes and a larger role in Euroleague play. Hence the stat shift. If you haven’t seen him play, he’s so instinctual and gifted it easy to see why many see him as the top pick.

There are some compelling storylines to watch towards the top of the NBA draft board, which is likely why so many NBA executives seem split on who they would peg as the top talent in the projected 2018 Draft class.

So, with that out the way, lets jump into the latest first-round 2018 NBA Mock Draft:

Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections and based on the standings today would convey to Boston.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would not convey.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @MikeAScotto, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: Another 2018 NBA Mock Draft – 12/13/17

Basketball Insiders’ publisher Steve Kyler drops his latest 2018 first-round NBA Mock Draft.

Steve Kyler

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A little less than a month ago we dropped the first 2018 NBA Mock Draft, which was met with a lot of disdain. Which is often a good thing because it sparks the discussion in NBA circles.

Since that Mock dropped, we’ve seen a bit more play out of some of the top prospects and many of the assumptions made almost a month ago are starting to settle into place a little more clearly.

The prevailing thought from NBA scouts and executives is that the possible 2018 NBA Draft class has a lot more questions than answers. The common view is that outside of the top 3 or 4 players there could be a very wide range on who the next 10-12 players will be; so expect for the second tier to evolve a lot over the course of the college basketball season.

A couple of things have started to surface among NBA scouts and executives, there seem to be three camps emerging around the top overall player – Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and international phenom Luka Dončić, seem to be the leading names mentioned most, with Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton making a strong push into the discussion. We can safely call this a three-horse race at this point.

The prevailing belief is that none of the three is far and away better than the other as a professional prospect, making it more likely than not that the top player selected will have a lot more to do with which team ultimately lands the pick, more so than the player themselves.

This class also seems to be brimming with promising athletic point guards, which unlike last year’s draft, could provide a lot of options for teams still trying to find that impact point guard.

There also looks to be 27 players in the projected top 100 that are 6’10 or bigger, eight of which project in the top 30. To put that into perspective, there were 11 players 6’10 or bigger drafted in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, and 17 total in the 60 2017 NBA Draft selections.

As we get into the 2018 calendar year, we’ll start to do deeper dives into the tiers of players and their possible NBA strengths and weakness.

So, with all of that in mind, here is the second 2018 first-round NBA Mock Draft.

Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Ricky Rubio trade this summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would not convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves first round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would not convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors first round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets first round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

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Mock Drafts

NBA AM: The First 2018 NBA Mock Draft

With College Basketball getting underway and things starting to get interesting in the standings of the NBA, what better time to drop a 2018 Mock Draft than on Thanksgiving.

Steve Kyler

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The Thanksgiving 2018 NBA Mock Draft

With College Basketball getting underway and things starting to get interesting in the standings of the NBA, what better time to drop a 2018 Mock Draft than on Thanksgiving.

So with that in mind here is my first Mock Draft of the 2018 Season, look for more of these are we march on (and hopefully you like the new Mock Draft table design.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this summer.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would convey.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Ricky Rubio trade this summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves first round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors first round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets first round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out our Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @MikeAScotto, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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