As Tom Thibodeau tried in the playoffs for the New York Knicks, Steve Kerr slid Josh Hart into the starting lineup for Team USA’s World Cup game against Jordan on Wednesday. The move came two days after the United States beat Greece, where afterward Kerr admitted he doesn’t know what position Hart plays.
Hart recorded 11 rebounds (five offensive), six points, and five assists off the bench against Greece. For reference, Hart’s total rebounds more than doubled the second-highest on the team.
After the game, Kerr called Hart a “winner” and included a great quote from assistant coach Erik Spoelstra:
"“Josh is just a winner,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “People ask ‘What position does he play?’ He plays winner. I don’t know what position he plays but he gets loose balls, he guards anybody. At one point (assistant coach Erik) Spo(elstra) turned to me and said ‘Some people get 50-50 balls; he gets the 30-70 balls.”"
It wasn’t a surprise to see Kerr name Hart a starter in Brandon Ingram’s place ahead of the United States’ final Group C game, and it was a move that played in the team’s favor.
Knicks’ Josh Hart starts for Team USA and records game-high 12 rebounds
Josh Hart is regarded as one of the best rebounding guards in the NBA, but he can play more than one position. You can throw him into any lineup, and there’s a 95% chance he will do well in the role, and that’s what happened against Jordan.
It was special to see Hart, Jalen Brunson, and Mikal Bridges in the starting lineup, but more importantly, it was clear Brunson was more comfortable with Hart as a starter. Hart had only two points but bolstered the defense alongside Bridges and pulled down 10+ rebounds in back-to-back games.
Ingram admitted he’s been frustrated with the way he’s been playing, and he said Kerr told him about the lineup change Wednesday morning, and it’s a move he agreed with. He was able to get back to attacking the basket as part of the second unit.
"“They thought it was a better fit for me playing with Tyrese and playing with some guys that are a little less ball dominant than Jalen and Ant,” Ingram said. “They just talked about it being a better fit, and I agreed with them.”"
Kerr didn’t say Hart would remain a starter for Team USA’s next game against Montenegro on Friday, but it’s a lineup change he should stick with.