With the Rockets, Montrezl Harrell was developing into something great
Spending two years with the team, Harrell didn’t get much of an opportunity as a youthful player given that the Rockets were well established in their rotation with aspirations of making it to the NBA Finals.
For Harrell, he knew he needed to keep himself moving and continue to get the reps in, so he found himself in his time with the Rockets requesting to get sent down to the G League.
Montrezl Harrell says he asked Rockets to send him to G League
Montrezl Harrell didn’t get comfortable once he made it to the NBA. Speaking to Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles on the Knuckleheads podcast, Harrell talked about how he asked the team’s coaching staff and management to utilize their minor league squad in order to get him an opportunity to refine his game.
“I spent a lot of my time, man, asking to go play in the G League. Man my whole first year and a half man.”
He admits that the NBA lifestyle was cool at first, but that he didn’t see an avenue to his goals just sitting on the bench.
“I mean it’s cool being a part of the team and you know traveling around with these guys, James, Dwight, all these guys, it’s cool, but you know, I want to play, man. Just sitting here.”
In his rookie season, getting fewer than 10 minutes per game at the NBA level, Harrell played 12 games with the Rio Grande Vipers. There, he averaged 38.9 minutes per game, 24.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists.
Harrell is a part of the generation of NBA up-and-comers that really paved their way through the G League, a path that has made the “farm system” for the NBA much more viable than it once was in recent years. Just a few years before Harrell, Robert Covington spent 42 games down with the Vipers on behalf of the Rockets.
Today, Covington is a strong and highly regarded defensive specialist at the pro level.
The G League continues to grow. As recently as November, we even ruminated about who the Rockets could call up from the Vipers next. Now, some top high school prospects are opting to join the G League’s pro path instead of going the traditional path through university.
By his second year, Harrell had proven — in part due to his G League requests and performance — that he was a team player and a hard worker, and the Rockets found a bit more room in the rotation for him. He averaged 18.3 minutes at the pro level in 58 games (14 starts) in his year two.
Now, with the Clippers, Harrell plays 27 minutes per game and has a legitimate case for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.