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Clippers 2018-2019 Player Preview: Montrezl Harrell is Poised for a Monster Season

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The spirited and aggressive big man had a break out season last year, and should continue his upward trajectory in 2018-19.

Los Angeles Clippers v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Basic Information:

Age: 24

Years in NBA: 3

Position: Power forward/Center

Height: 6’8”

Weight: 240

Key Stats: Harrell was a key player off the bench for the Clippers during the 2017-18 season. He averaged career highs of 11.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 17 minutes per game. His 63.5% shooting from the field was the third-best in the NBA.

Contract Status: This summer Harrell agreed to terms on a two-year, $12 million deal to return to the Clippers.

Expectations:

Re-signing Montrezl Harrell was one of the better moves the Clippers made during the off-season. Harrell was a surprisingly solid back-up to DeAndre Jordan during the 2017-18 season, bringing energy and enthusiasm to the floor night after night. He played in 76 games for the franchise, achieving career highs in points and rebounds. The 6-foot-8 center was one of a number of players traded to the Clippers by the Houston Rockets as part of the Chris Paul trade in June 2017.

Despite coming off a career season, Harrell has not taken his foot off the gas. He spent this off-season working on his ball-handling and shooting off the dribble, and developing a corner three-point shot. Harrell is already proficient in the paint, so adding these skills to his arsenal will only expand his game and improve his efficiency.

It is anticipated that Harrell will come off the bench this season as the backup to new Clipper center Marcin Gortat. Although smaller than Gortat, Harrell is more athletic and explosive, and also slightly more efficient in transition performance. According to NBA stats, Harrell shot 71.2 percent in transition and hit 1.40 points per possession, putting him in the 94th percentile for those categories league-wide. Gortat had slightly lower stats, shooting 68% percent and hitting 1.30 points per possession, putting him in the 86.7th percentile. The Clippers have been very vocal about wanting to push the ball up the floor in transition this season. Given this strong focus on pace, it seems likely that Harrell will see as much (if not more) time on the hardwood than he did last year, alongside various guard combinations from the Clippers’ deep and talented backcourt.

Fans should most look forward to Harrell and Milos Teodosic on the floor together. The pair made for some magical plays last season.

If the preseason is any indication, Harrell is primed for another banner year. He has seen minutes in all three of the Clippers’ preseason wins and is picking up exactly where he left off, averaging 12 points on 60.9% shooting and 6.3 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game. That’s just fantastic per-minute production.

  • Clippers v. Australia’s Sydney Kings: 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and one steal in 20 minutes.
  • Clippers v. Minnesota Timberwolves: 13 points, six rebounds, three assists and one block in 19 minutes.
  • Clippers v. Los Angeles Lakers: 12 points, six rebounds in 19 minutes

Of potential concern, Harrell is averaging 3.3 personal fouls per game this preseason, nearly double his career average. Of course, this may just be the result of officials setting the tone for the upcoming season; many preseason games have been marred by excessive foul-calling. Nonetheless, this may be a stat line worth watching. Additionally, Harrell’s defensive effort can be inconsistent at times, something he needs to work on, particularly with the hole left by Jordan’s departure.

Harrell’s value includes the spark he brings to the floor, his aggressiveness, and his ability to score. He is a tough, hard-playing, scrappy competitor. He fits the Clamp City culture, and should have a break out season in 2018-2019. #TeamTrezz.