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Blazers to Start Josh Hart at Small Forward vs. Clippers

In the Portland Trail Blazers preseason opener, it appears Josh Hart may have a lead in the starting small forward competition.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Portland Trail Blazers Al Sermeno-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups has confirmed that veteran guard Josh Hart will start at small forward in the team’s inaugural preseason matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night, according to Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report.

Chauncey Billup confirms Josh Hart will start at SF tonight

Portland’s starting small forward slot is currently up for grabs as Hart, Nassir Little, Justise Winslow, Shaedon Sharpe, and Keon Johnson are all expected to find minutes at the position where available. None are yet the clear starting option, and Billups has previously indicated that his starting small forward may be matchup dependent on a night-to-night basis.

Hart, stated his preference to start at the Blazers’ media day last week, saying that anyone who says they don’t want to be in the starting lineup “is either foolish or lying.” Receiving the first nod out of training camp, it would appear that he may have the inside track (but will likely see strong pressure from Little).

This does not necessarily mean that Hart is Billups’ favorite to join the starting lineup on a regular basis, but it does show that he is among the serious candidates, as expected. He will face off against the Clippers’ Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, two of the league’s toughest covers, to start preseason action.