Basketball

What Montrezl Harrell Brings To The Wizards

Sanjesh Singh October 8, 2021 11:00 am ET

In their first two games of the season the Washington Wizards are 2-0. Center Montrezl Harrell has been a huge factor in that averaging 18 points, 8 rebounds and 1 block-per-game in 30 minutes per night. 

Harrell was brought to the Wizards this summer in the Russell Westbrook trade and he will be looking to revitalize his value in the league as a key piece for the Wizards this season. 

After winning the NBA’ Sixth Man of the Year in 2019-2020, Harrell’s value on and off the court has slowly diminished. His awarding-winning season was earned with a 18.6 point and 7.1 rebound stat line in 28 minutes a contest during the regular season. Coming to the bubble for the playoffs however, did expose flaws in Harrell’s game. His numbers dipped to just 10.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per game in just 18.7 minutes per game. 

As an undersized center that is not a true rim protector, doesn’t shoot threes, or switch on to ball handlers he is not a great playoff center. However, this is not why the Wizards brought him in this season. 

His Role So Far

Splitting time with Daniel Gafford, Harrell has provided a spark off the bench with multiple dunks and tough plays in the paint. Last year, the backup center role was mostly played by fan-favorite Robin Lopez. A smart player with great hair and the league’s deadliest jump hook, Lopez was a useful player for the Wizards. But he did not bring the same toughness or athleticism that Harrell does. 

Harrell is the kind of player every team needs over a long 82 game season. His energy and fire will keep the team going through the slow part of the season. Last year, despite the injuries, this player was Westbrook. A player so competitive and confrontational that he won’t let people get away with not playing hard, and whose traits become infectious amongst the team. Last year it was Westbrook who revitalized the team and led them to a playoff birth. Harrell can be this kind of player for the Wizards. 

His Role Moving Forward

The interesting question comes when Center Thomas Bryant returns from injury. Bryant will return sometime in December from a knee injury he sustained last season. The 24 year old center is an extremely efficient offensive player with range out to the three point line. 

Bryant and Harrell are both in the final year of their contracts, and Daniel Gafford just signed a 3 year contract extension. In today’s game you do not need three centers on the roster (don’t tell Scott Brooks). With the team committing to Gafford, the’ll have to choose between Bryant and Harrell for the future. Both players are free agents after this year. Bryant is the better shooter, and three years younger than Harrell. It would be best to stick with Bryant over Harrell moving forward.

The best play for the Wizards here is to let Harrell excel in his sixth man role. Bring energy off the bench, beat up on teams’ second units with dunks and screams to the crowd. Then when Bryant is back in the swing of things, look to trade Harrell before the deadline. His name and pedigree still garner respect in the league. And if he has a good start to the season he should have some trade value come February.

If the Wizards can get 30-40 quality games from Montrezl Harrell then receive a pick or prospect for him at the deadline, I would consider Harrell’s time with the Wizards to be a success. His personality and experience on playoff teams will bring a lot of value to this team, even if just for half a season.

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