Los Angeles Lakers fans are pretty pleased with the 2020 NBA champion’s offseason dealings so far, acquiring Dennis Schroder in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder and outbidding other teams for prized free agents Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol. The icing on the cake for the Lakers is they somehow managed to pull off a major heist by stealing Montrezl Harrell from the crosstown rival Los Angeles Clippers.
The 2020 Sixth Man of the Year winner enjoyed the best season of his pro career in 2019-20, notching terrific numbers of 18.6 points per game on 58.0 percent shooting from the field. He added 7.1 boards and 1.7 assists per game off the bench.
While Harrell struggled in the bubble, he is a valuable player who can really help the Lakers. Trez could have gotten a big payday elsewhere, but he couldn’t resist the opportunity to win a Larry O’Brien Trophy next season. The Lakers got quite a bargain with a two-year, $19 million deal.
Before we grade the Lakers’ signing of Harrell, let’s first have a look at the pros and cons that he brings to the table.
The 6-foot-7 bruiser may be a bit undersized for his position, but Montrezl Harrell does play awfully big for his size. Trez goes up against 7-foot behemoths on a regular basis and often gets the better of them on the low block. He is also relatively young at just 26 years old, so it will be nice to have that youth over JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard, who are both in their 30s.
Harrell gives the Lakers another youthful big man who has managed to remain healthy so far in his career. The University of Louisville product is a legitimate low-post scorer, a lob threat, and a phenomenal glass eater. He could be the legitimate third scoring option behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Apart from getting his points from pick-and-rolls and easy putbacks, Harrell gives the Lakers another guy who can create his own shot down low. His infectious energy alone – especially along with the second unit – should give L.A. a boost.
Montrezl Harrell’s athleticism and high motor make him a serviceable defender, but he has had trouble guarding bigger centers and he doesn’t have the best awareness on that end of the court.
We saw him get destroyed by Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic when the Clippers squandered a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference Semifinals. Nuggets fans even rejoiced when Harrell signed with the Lakers.
Then, there’s his fit alongside Anthony Davis. The Brow managed to stay relatively healthy last season mainly because he didn’t have to take much punishment down low since he was shadowed by a 7-footer in either McGee or Howard.
Harrell is no stranger to playing the 5 position, but his lack of size might force AD to compensate a bit and sacrifice his body more, especially on the defensive end.
Overall Grade: A-
Sure, Montrezl Harrell is a tad smaller than the Lakers’ previous bigs, but there is no doubt his overall impact on the floor just made their repeat bid a whole lot stronger.
He brings intangibles that do not show up on the scoreboard, while his defensive deficiencies can be addressed in head coach Frank Vogel’s solid system.
Plus, lack of size shouldn’t be much of an issue now that Marc Gasol is also on board. Having Harrell and Gasol in the frontcourt gives the Lakers options depending on matchups.
Harrell has no qualms coming off the bench, and he could play a role similar to what he had with the Clippers in terms of bringing energy to that second unit.