Josh Hart is the hardest working person in the NBA

With so many knocked out with injuries, Hart is going to see a huge amount of minutes per game

Josh Hart

Work heart, not smarts, has been the New York Knicks’ blueprint since late January. While injuries to Julius Randle and OG Anunoby have kept his front court stars out of the rotation, Tom Thibodeau has turned to his tried-and-true method of working his blue collar contributors until they’re exhausted. Their most consistent minute-eater recently has been Josh Hart. While most teams would be motivating their players in anticipation of the final stretch of the regular season and the opening round of the postseason, Thibs have taken a different approach. It’s not entirely his fault. The Knicks have been so snakebitten that Thibs has returned to his roots by playing 40 minutes with Hart in eight consecutive games.

Josh Hart

However, no one has played this many minutes in consecutive weeks since James Harden last did so in 2016. Josh Hart is in an exclusive club. Working an average of 40 minutes a night is a bar in the modern NBA, equivalent to working 16-hour Great Depression-era factory shifts. They don’t want too many players to get injured on the job. But this is the same coach who made Luol Deng play so many minutes in 2012 that he not only led the league, but also suffered a spinal fluid leak during the playoffs, and Thibes still sent him to the second-round series. Tried to get in uniform on time.

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Without Anunoby, Hart is putting up employee of the month numbers and still looks like he’s having too much fun and trolling opponents, but Thibs needs to calm down here. The stakes here aren’t as bad as keeping Derrick Rose in the final minutes of an unexpected playoff win or trying to play Deng after losing 15 pounds, but Hart is the ultimate glue guy. Since Anunoby’s injury pushed him into the starting lineup in late January, Hart led the league in assists and rebounds and led the NBA in minutes per game over that span.

Twenty years on, no one would have noticed this type of use of a role player, and no coach in this era has been as resistant to resting his players as Thibodeau. Since gaining the second seed, the Knicks have been ravaged by injuries. You can build an entire starting lineup from the Knicks rotation players on the bench. When they come back, Tom Thibodeau is ready to run them into the ground because that’s the Thibs way.

To highlight how strange it is for a player to exceed the 40-minute limit, @AutomaticNBA detailed how unusual Hart’s run was. Twenty years ago, 18 players played eight consecutive games of 40 minutes or more. Kobe Bryant had a similar performance during the 2012-13 season. Mike D’Antoni led him to score 40 or more in seven straight games before he ruptured his Achilles tendon (due to overuse) at the end of that season.


NBA competitions today involve more possessions, more mobility, and players have more mileage on their tires than ever before. Josh Hart is working overtime on a bargain $81 million deal. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard has played small-ball power forward and that versatility has increased his value.

He’s the hardest working guy in the basketball business right now. Once the Knicks are fully healthy, Hart will move back into a make-it-all role off the bench. The downside of relying on Hart for so long every night is that it indicates how much trouble the Knicks are in. Relying on Jalen Brunson and a utility man since January 30, the Knicks have gone 6-9. Brunson missed nearly a week of basketball before returning to the lineup on Friday. As Randle, Anunoby and eventually Mitchell Robinson recover, Hart will return to his bench role and have his minutes cut by about a third.

As for Thibodeau, his goal this season is to provide momentum to his stars by keeping them healthy, but who are we kidding? Some things never change.

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