2. Montrezl Harrell
During Montrezl Harrell‘s freshman season in college, the Louisville Cardinals won a national championship with Harrell as a reserve. When Gorgui Dieng left for the NBA Draft, Harrell became a highly productive starter, as he posted averages of 14 points and 8.4 rebounds during his sophomore season.
Harrell upped his level of play during his third season with the Cardinals, as he averaged 15.7 points and 9.2 rebounds, while winning the Karl Malone Award, which is the nation’s best power forward. But the scouting report on Harrell was that he was undersized and lacked a jump shot, which was enough to scare off teams in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Another challenge Harrell ran into was regarding the depth of big men in his draft class, which included Karl Anthony-Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Myles Turner. The Houston Rockets ultimately drafted Harrell in the second round, as he was chosen with the 32nd pick in the draft.
Harrell played sparingly during the 2015-16 season but received an uptick in minutes during Mike D’Antoni’s first season with the Houston Rockets in 2016-17. Harrell averaged 9.1 points per game that season, and had a player efficiency rating of 19.2, which was third-best on the team, behind only James Harden and Clint Capela.
Harrell also had a true shooting percentage of 66.2 percent, which was best on the team among players who played in at least six games. With the Louisville product’s stock rising around the league, he was included in the trade that brought Chris Paul to the Rockets, and he instantly surged with Doc Rivers.
Harrell had a player efficiency rating of 24.7 during his first season in LA, while averaging 11 points per game as a reserve. The 2018-19 season was arguably the North Carolina native’s breakout season, as he posted averages of 16.6 points on 10.8 shots per game, in addition to grabbing 6.5 rebounds per game.
Harrell made 61.5 percent of his shots, which was a team high, and he also became a pivotal component of the Clips making the playoffs during that season. Harrell played stellar during LAC’s first round matchup against the Golden State Warriors, as he averaged 18.3 points on an insane 73.1 percent of his field goal attempts.
Although the Clips had reason for optimism, they were the winners of the 2019 offseason, as they landed Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and had seen Harrell’s continued development off the bench. During the 2019-20 season, Harrell developed into “Monsta Trezz”, as he’s averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds off the bench.
What’s also gone largely overlooked is the fact that the Monsta has posted a player efficiency rating of 23.1, which is second to only Kawhi Leonard in terms of players who have appeared in at least 15 games. Harrell’s contract is set to expire at the conclusion of this season and it’s safe to say he’s about to get paid.
Although it’s been frustrating for Houston Rockets fans to have witnessed the growth and development of Harrell on a different team, no one could have predicted Harrell would have turned into the player we’ve seen in LA. But the Houston Rockets saw enough of Harrell before he developed into the Monsta and drafted him with the second round of the 2015 draft.
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