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Clippers Stock Watch: Montrezl Harrell’s energy is fueling this team

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In this week’s Stock Watch, Montrezl Harrell claims his spot atop the center rotation.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to Stock Watch, a regular feature where we’ll check in on which Clippers are playing well, not so hot, or just can’t crack the rotation.

Trending up:

Montrezl Harrell

The Clippers center rotation has been in flux over the past week. Boban Marjanovic began the week as the starter against Minnesota, and Marcin Gortat got the nod against Milwaukee, but Harrell was clearly the most effective throughout. He shot 23-of-28 over three games, and averaged more than 19 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Harrell was arguably the team’s most impactful player in its win over the Bucks Saturday, his energy providing the lift LA needed in a back-and-forth affair.

During the season, Harrell is averaging 13.8 points on 19.6 percent usage. He is shooting 69 percent from the field, including 76 percent at the rim, where he takes 85 percent of his shots. That places him in the 84th percentile of all bigs, an outstanding figure for someone who is theoretically undersized to play center. Harrell also draws fouls at a high rate, which allows the Clippers to get in the bonus earlier, a huge advantage for a team that shoots 82 percent from the foul line.

Harrell presents limitations as a defender given his height, but he has still high block and steal rates for his position. He has spent less time playing with the starting backcourt of Avery Bradley and Patrick Beverley, so his defensive metrics suffer in comparison to Marjanovic and Gortat, but Harrell definitely offers more versatility as a switch defender. Besides, the gap isn’t even close on offense.

Harrell has steadily improved as the season has gone on, and Doc Rivers has noticed, upping his minutes from 20.4 in October to 25.6 minutes per game in November. With a matchup against the Warriors tonight, the Clippers figure to rely on Harrell even more moving forward.

Trending down:

Milos Teodosic

Teodosic has been the collateral damage of Avery Bradley’s injury. The second-year guard had been flourishing, at least offensively, in the second unit as the point man for a three-guard lineup that was wrecking opposing backups. The five-man grouping of Teodosic, Lou Williams, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Mike Scott, and Harrell had an effective field-goal percentage of 71.8 percent. That’s insane.

However, Bradley’s injury meant that Gilgeous-Alexander moved into the starting lineup, removing the best perimeter defender from the reserve unit. Playing Jerome Robinson next to Milos and Lou just exacerbated the issue on defense, although Robinson had some nice moments on offense. As a result, there will be some reshuffling, or elimination, of Teodosic’s minutes, particularly with Bradley still on the mend and fellow perimeter defensive stud Luc Mbah a Moute also on the injury list.

Doc Rivers said that Ty Wallace and Sindarius Thornwell will both be getting playing time now, and that presumably comes at Teodosic’s expense. Theoretically, Milos could still play next to Thornwell, who provides the necessary defensive element. However, Wallace is a natural one and the team would presumably like to see what he can offer in his second season. Wallace definitely has the capacity to get downhill more than Teodosic, but no one on the Clippers passes quite like Milos.

Keep an eye on:

Danilo Gallinari

Gallinari is in this section because I don’t think we’ve been talking enough about how solid the forward has been for LA. Gallo has had a bounce back year after missing most of 2017-18, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by his head coach. Rivers said that if this version of Gallinari were playing for the Clippers last season, the team wouldn’t have just made the playoffs — they would have been the 3 or 4 seed.

Sometimes, you can watch the Clippers play and lose track of Gallinari. His game is so smooth that he doesn’t grab your attention like Harrell or Williams. But he’s always in the right place on offense, pinging the ball to the open man and keeping the defense reacting.

Gallinari is shooting a career-best 44 percent from three and absolutely lighting the nets on fire when he gets to the free-throw line. Unfortunately, he missed a free throw Saturday, falling just short in his bid to catch Jamal Crawford’s franchise record of 58 made in a row. He now has only made 61 of 63 foul shots this season. But seriously, it’s just a matter of time before Gallinari goes after that streak again, and he’s definitely worth paying attention to in the interim. His consistency, along with that of Tobias Harris, has been a large factor in the team’s success thus far.