LA Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell is arguably one of the NBA’s hardest workers. This season, he’ll seek recognition as the league’s Most Improved Player.
Fans of the LA Clippers don’t need to be told how good Montrezl Harrell is. They know.
They know all about his efficiency, and how he averaged 23 points per 36 minutes last season. They know all about how good he was down the stretch of the season, especially in March and April, when he recorded nearly 15 points per game in just 21 minutes per game. And they know how energetic he is as well, seeing the way in which he runs the floor, throws down slams, and sends back shot attempts.
The issue, then, is the rest of the NBA — they just don’t know how good Harrell is, or how good he could be. And he knows this.
As the Clippers enter a rebuilding(?) stage, now is the perfect opportunity for Harrell to put the rest of the league on notice.
When DeAndre Jordan fled LA in favor of the Dallas Mavericks, a large hole opened up within the Clippers chart. An elite rim protector and lob target, Jordan had long been a staple of the starting rotation.
That hole was quickly filled when the team traded Austin Rivers to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Marcin Gortat. He’s certainly a downgrade from Jordan, but he’s still a reliable, veteran option that likely won’t miss more than a few games.
Still though, putting Gortat in the starting rotation feels more like a scotch tape fix than one involving super glue. There’s a very real chance that Gortat isn’t the team’s starting center when it’s all said and done in April.
That’s where Harrell comes in.
While he’ll likely start the season coming off the bench, the way in which he finished last season, it seems likely that he forces his way up before too long. Harrell is too hard a worker, and much more of an athlete than Gortat. He’d be absolutely deadly in small ball lineups as well.
Given a minutes increase, Harrell would get all the more chances to prove himself to the rest of the league, which is a goal of his for the upcoming season. More specifically, he feels he could be named the league’s Most Improved Player.
If you take a look at his Twitter, Harrell’s pinned tweet reads “MIP” followed by an hourglass.
I reached out to Harrell earlier this week and asked him about the tweet, to which he responded:
“Only quote I wanna give is good luck to the league… simple as that.”
Clearly Trezz is as confident as ever — a positive sign that he feels strongly about what he could accomplish this season.
In order to win the award, Harrell will need to make a substantial jump, though there’s no reason to believe why he won’t. His age range is right, his position will allow for plenty of growth, and he should only continue to get better.
Assuming he brings his numbers up a bit and earns a place in the starting rotation, Harrell should be a lock to at least be named a finalist for the award. He’ll have competition, but it’s nothing he hasn’t overcome in the past.