Oct 19, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Montrezl Harrell (5) dunks during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
2016-17 Player Preview: Montrezl Harrell-undersized but energetic
“With the 32nd pick of the 2015 NBA draft, the Houston Rockets select Montrezl Harrell…”
In any sort of sports draft, athletes are evaluated and drafted based on their potential and promise. These attributes are looked at as a well of untapped resources. The promise of talent helps to elevate the player’s draft stock and their gifts are then dissected to determine their fit with the team. Potential and promise can be your biggest allies or your own personal demons. The Houston Rockets have seen both from Montrezl Harrell.
Back in March of this year, Harrell was suspended for five games for pushing a referee during an NBA D-League game. It was a heat of the moment action and it can be argued that Trez wasn’t aware the individual was an official. After the suspension, the Rockets called Harrell to the big leagues and with limited minutes he was able to average a little over 3 points per game (ppg) and a couple of boards. Although, Harrell is an undersized power forward, it’s his hustle and energy that make him a great asset. In fact, Coach D’Antoni gave him run at the five (center position) during preseason to help exploit possible mismatches.
The preseason allowed Trez to showcase how his time in the D-League helped his game evolve and how much of an impact he can make this upcoming season.
Feb 6, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Montrezl Harrell (35) dunks against the Portland Trail Blazers in the second half at Toyota Center. Portland won 96 to 79. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
2016-17 Preseason Accomplishments
Montrezl Harrell 2016 Preseason stats:
Minutes per game (mpg): 16.9
Points per game (ppg): 7.7
Rebounds per game (rpg): 6.1
Field goal % : 44.2%
Total blocks: 12
Harrell’s highlight during the preseason was the 20 (pts) and 10 (rebs) in a losing effort to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Oct 15, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Rockets forward Montrezl Harrell (35) tries to pass out the ball to forward Sam Dekker (7) against the Golden State Warriors during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
The always exciting Trez Harrell looks to put it all together this season
From summer league to preseason there has been a consistent improvement for the would be center. It’s easy to talk about Harrell’s improved ball handling and perimeter shooting, but I always thought his 7’4 wingspan was just as important, even if slightly cruel. Rebounding, put back dunks and alley oops look easy. The cruel part, is trying to go at Trez and maybe getting a step on him only to see those wings stretch and toss your shot to the stands.
Feb 6, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Montrezl Harrell (35) reacts while playing against the Portland Trail Blazers in the second half at Toyota Center. Portland won 96 to 79. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Areas to improve
As previously stated Harrell has improved his ball handling and shooting, but to be successful in this league there is still more work to be done. As much as Trez is an energy guy, his offensive skill set is slightly limited right now. Post moves, shot selection, moving without the ball, and above all free throw shooting. The fundamentals added with the hustle and heart Harrell possesses, would make a very dynamic NBA player.
Too many times players become satisfied with their game and become complacent. Talent will only take you so far. The work ethic shown in the off-season will show on the court, and Trez’s work is evident. You can see the comfort when Harrell had an isolated defender on him in the preseason games against the Grizzlies and the Pelicans. The Rockets hope to see more of the same comfort and ease Harrell exhibits on the defensive end and have the young player continue to develop.
Next: 2016-2017 Outlook
Oct 30, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Montrezl Harrell (35) dribbles the ball as Golden State Warriors center Marreese Speights (5) defends during the first half at Toyota Center. The Warriors won 112-92. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Montrezl Harrell looks to continue his improved play from preseason
With the massive wing span, the athleticism, and energy there were times during the summer league and preseason that Harrell played like a stud. Now, with one year of pro basketball under his belt it will be interesting to see how this season plays out.
Interior defense and rebounding are Trez’s bread and butter and the Rockets are going to count on his spark off the bench. Coach D’Antoni will more than likely have him back up Ryan Anderson and even possibly Clint Cappella. With K.J. Mcdaniels and Harrell, I expect the highlight reel to be full of monster dunks, blocks being sent to stands, and an exciting run and gun offense.
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