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Player in Focus: Montrezl Harrell and his journey so far with the LA Lakers | NBA Season 2020-21

Montrezl Harrell with the LA Lakers
Montrezl Harrell with the LA Lakers
Kunal Sethi
ANALYST
Modified 04 Apr 2021
Feature

Montrezl Harrell was acquired by the LA Lakers in the 2020 off-season. The signing was instantly hailed as a brilliant move, as Harrell had won the 2020 'Sixth Man of the Year' award with the LA Clippers and was averaging career-highs in several categories.

Harrell has decent playoff experience. He has appeared in six playoff series so far, reaching the second round twice.

Although he came off the bench and didn't receive much game-time initially, he got his first taste of playoff action with the LA Clippers. Montrezl Harrell averaged 21 minutes off the bench and contributed almost 13 points and four rebounds per game for the LA Clippers while also producing an occasional 15+ point game.

Role with the LA Lakers

Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell in action for the LA Lakers
Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell in action for the LA Lakers

Montrezl Harrell has performed his role quite well with the LA Lakers and is crucial for their title run. Not only does he provide extremely efficient buckets off the bench, but he is also a beast in defense and hustle.

His role with the LA Lakers is not to drop 25 points per game or give the team double-digit rebounds, but he can certainly amp it up when needed. Montrezl Harrell is averaging 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game on 62% shooting since Anthony Davis got injured.

Head coach Frank Vogel recently said that he is considering a rotation where Montrezl Harrell plays the center, Gasol plays the power forward in offense and Harrell switches to 4 while Gasol to 5 in defense.

Season so far

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Montrezl Harrell has been a great pick-up for the LA Lakers this season. He does what he is supposed to do off the bench but can boost his game when asked to. Harrell, along with Dennis Schroder, has provided the reigning champions with a lot of energy in defense and is always willing to draw a charge or grab a loose ball.

Ever since LeBron James and Anthony Davis got sidelined, Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell have stepped up their games. They combined for 42 points against the Orlando Magic on March 28th, and their chemistry is reportedly growing with every passing game.

Frank Vogel has put Montrezl Harrell as the primary pick-and-roll option for the ball handlers. Harrell's scoring ability and efficiency make the strategy effective, as he is an inside and lob threat.

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He has the fifth-best defensive rating (105.3) in the league this season and the 13th-best defensive win shares (2.2). Montrezl Harrell's improvement at the defensive end has been significant this season.

He can easily evade screens and stay in front of smaller guards and can make the correct decision when encountered with a defensive switch.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Montrezl Harrell with the LA Lakers
Montrezl Harrell with the LA Lakers

Montrezl Harrell's biggest strength is his ability to score from the inside. 63% of his field goal attempts are from 0-3 feet from the basket, and he makes nearly 73% of those attempts, while 23% of them are dunks. He is a career 61% from the field and is averaging 63% this season.

Harrell is 6' 7" and can play a small-ball center for the LA Lakers. Although he isn't effective against big men in the paint, he can be quite effective against other small-ball centers. As mentioned earlier, Vogel is entertaining the prospect of Gasol switching to the 5 spot in defense capitalize on his prowess against small-ball centers.

Another strength of Harrell is his mentality and hustle. The reigning 'Sixth Man of the Year' is always willing to put up a fight when he is on the floor and gives his everything in the 25 minutes he plays.

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One of the gaps in Montrezl Harrell's game is his outside shooting, though. He hardly ever makes three-point attempts, and his FG% consistently decreases the further he goes away from the rim.

Luckily he doesn't, and isn't asked to, make those shots in a game. But if he were to develop a consistent three-point shot, he would be lethal in any pick-and-roll situation.

Expectations from Montrezl Harrell going forward

LA Lakers vs Phoenix Suns
LA Lakers vs Phoenix Suns

Montrezl Harrell has been quite efficient and effective in the role he has played for the LA Lakers.

He has helped hold down the fort while LeBron James and Anthony Davis recover from their respective injuries. When the two star forwards return to the lineup, Harrell could see his minutes drop and return to being one of the LA Lakers' best bench options.

The LA Lakers head coach has seen great production from Harrell so far to trust him with the ball when the starters are off the floor.

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There will be high expectations on Harrell come the postseason. Most players' stats go down during the playoffs due to intense pressure, increased half-court defense and lack of easy looks. Montrezl Harrell will have to maintain his efficiency and not suffer any dip in form, as he is a crucial piece of the LA Lakers' bench.

Also Read: 5 players the LA Lakers should retain beyond the 2020-21 NBA Season.

Published 04 Apr 2021, 21:47 IST
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