Most players signed to training camp deals don’t end up making the final roster — per Keith Smith, it only happens once every few years. This year, five players accomplished that feat, but none have been better than Isaiah Hartenstein.
Hartenstein came into camp competing for the third center job alongside Harry Giles. He won that battle and hasn’t stopped then. With averages of about seven points and five rebounds per game while shooting 67.5 percent on twos, Hartenstein has been more than serviceable, and he’s provided some cover for Serge Ibaka as the veteran center slowly makes his way back.
As such, it comes as little surprise that, per the most recent survey of Clippers fans, 45 percent believe that Hartenstein has been the most positive surprise of the season. Nicolas Batum came in second with 21 percent of the vote and Paul George third with 19 percent. Both returning Clippers have excelled to begin the season, but each likely had higher expectations than the relatively unknown Hartenstein.
Hartenstein came to the Clippers because he wasn’t sure he would have a role with his former team, Cleveland. That decision has been a win-win for both parties, as the Cavaliers — who won 27 percent of their games over the past three seasons — have jumped out to a 7-5 start. That’s why Cleveland was voted the positive surprise league-wide by 46 percent of fans.
More news for Thursday:
- Mirjam Swanson has some love for Reggie Jackson, the speaker.
- Mark Medina dives into Paul George’s early-season scoring.
- Melissa Rohlin shares how Chauncey Billups factored into George’s development.
- Marc Stein has some interesting thoughts on referees allowing increasing amounts of contact.
- Former Clippers coach Alvin Gentry is in the middle of some strange front-office drama in New Orleans.