The fifth-year guard averaged 19.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists on 50-37-77 percentage splits across those games, giving him an excellent springboard into next season.
Here are a few takeaways from his press conference today:
Hart didn’t have a ton of time to get accustomed to the situation with the Blazers; he played in only 13 games across, and tomorrow will mark his second full month in Portland. Though he already has noticeably-positive remarks in regards to his relationship with Chauncey Billups.
“I’m gonna say he’s great. I’m gonna say he’s a player’s coach. He does a great job in terms of building you up and holding you up, and he has a good balance of holding you accountable. I think that’s the biggest thing for a coach is, obviously helping you develop, but making sure they hold you accountable towards those kinds of things. He cares about you as a person, and I think that’s a big thing, I think that’s something that’s kind of overlooked sometimes. I’ve only been here two months, but that’s what I’ve seen and that’s what, for me is really cool.”
In perhaps the biggest takeaway of Hart’s exit interview, the talented swingman talked about his status in returning next year with the Blazers, something that should create a ton of hope. He’s said that he fully expects to be there next season, barring something drastic. In considering that thought, he also gave a positive reception of the Blazers’ fanbase, and how that atones for being in a smaller market.
“I think small-market teams always get a knock for being in a small market. But, my short time here in Portland has been amazing. The fanbase here is incredible. I was in New Orleans, and it was different because you know, you had the Saints, and down South, it’s football country. So, being here, being the only professional team here, it doesn’t feel like a small market. You have fans that come out every game and support. We’ve been struggling the last 20 games, losing games by 20, 30 and they’re there until the end of the game. That’s a big selling point for us, obviously them, the coaching staff, Chauncey, the players we have, Dame (Damian Lillard), Nurk (Jusuf Nurkic), Ant (Anfernee Simons), myself, I think we have a good balance of an amazing city, a great atmosphere in the arena, and you’ve got players that are hungry, coaches that are hungry, front office people that are hungry to make their mark in this league, and I think that’s a big selling point for us.”
Hart, who thrived with a career-best 25 percent usage rate with the Blazers, also provided his outlook on how next season could look with him commanding a role alongside a fully-healthy Lillard and Simons:
I talked to both Joe and Chauncey, and it’s definitely going to be a little more different than I’m used to. I’m actually going to be more guard dominant next year in terms of playmaking, having the ball in my hand, that kind of thing. So, that’s something I’m excited about. If you look at my time in this league, last year and this year in New Orleans, I was the starting “4” (power forward), playing two-through-four, so now, the role and the playmaking is going to be different, but it’s something that I’m excited about, something that I feel like I’m comfortable with, and just looking forward to it.”
The link to the rest of his exit interview, along with Joe Cronin, Chauncey Billups and Anfernee Simons are also available through that above link.
Hart also talks about his relationship with Damian Lillard — and some of the experiences of being on the other side of Lillard’s 40-point games — his thoughts on the New Orleans Pelicans making the Play-In, and players understanding roles, among much else.