After the Los Angeles Clippers traded away their leading scorer Tobias Harris in February, many believed there'd be no coming back for this franchise from that point on. But evidently, they ended up over-achieving every possible goal and exceeded all expectations before crashing out to Golden State in the first round of the playoffs.
At the forefront of this humongous tectonic shift - which involved LA finishing with a respectable 48-34 win-loss record and dragging the mighty Warriors all the way to a Game 6 - was the 32nd overall pick from the 2015 NBA draft, Montrezl Harrell. His efforts to ignite the spark in LA bagged him a finalist spot for this year's 'Sixth Man of the Year' award (along with teammate Lou Williams and Pacers' Domantas Sabonis),capping his emphatic season with a fitting end.
“He is, for me, the identity of our team,” said Avery Bradley back in November. “A hard grit player who brings it every single night and every single possession. And he energizes our team when he plays that way.”
Let's take a look at a bunch of arguments that suggest why he deserves to win this award.
#1 The Clippers would not have been the force they were without Harrell's heart and hustle
In a deal that sent Chris Paul away to the Rockets, the Clippers got the former Louisville Cardinal along with Beverley, Dekker, Hilliard, Liggins, Williams, Wiltjer and a 2018 first-round pick. Harrell resigned with the Clippers last summer and laid the foundation for what was going to be a career-transforming season for him.
More than the numbers and dominance in the paint, he was the team's emotional leader - a mini Draymond Green in many ways. He was ferocious, exaggerated, pumped-up and in some ways what many call as the basketball expressionist.
The 6-foot-8 center/forward did all he could physically and mentally to give his team just that extra edge they required in crunch times to get through.