After agreeing to deals with NBA superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Los Angeles Clippers are one of the best teams in the West. Now, rising star Montrezl Harrell can step in and be the anchor for a title favorite.
Former Louisville basketball star and current LA Clipper Montrezl Harrell etched a two-year deal preceding a monster break-out season.
Now, a year later, with a huge contract year looming, he is an integral piece for a Clippers team primed to make a deep run in the 2020 postseason.
Concluding what proved to be one of the most exciting NBA free agency weeks of all time, 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard surprised everyone and signed with the Clippers over Toronto and the LA Lakers.
As part of the blockbuster move, Oklahoma City agreed to terms with the Clippers, sending All-Star Paul George to LA and moving Shai Gilgeous Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, and five total first round picks.
With an opportunity to stay and defend his title or go to Los Angeles to create the next NBA super team, Leonard chose the move to LA, but he will be donning the red and blue instead of purple and gold.
With Leonard and George, the NBA Finals MVP and the second runner-up for NBA MVP, now in the fold for the Clippers, team executive Jerry West has all of the pieces to have an incredible team capable of domination. This, even in a Western Conference that will feature a vastly improved Lakers team, a reloaded Denver Nuggets, a Utah Jazz squad that has added a star-studded cast, a Houston team who brings nearly everyone back, and the Golden State Warriors who still have Steph Curry and Klay Thompson among others.
Surrounding Leonard and George, the Clippers have Patrick Beverly and Landry Shamet, who both saw their stock rise this season. Lou Williams is the back-to-back recipient of the NBA sixth man of the year award and should play a huge role again on the 2019-20 squad.
Though the starting center spot mostly belonged to Ivica Zubac and JaMychal Green last season, it was Montrezl Harrell who took the Clippers to the next level. Though Williams was a deserved winner of the sixth man award after averaging 20 points and 5.6 assists per game, it was Harrell who often times stole the show off the bench.
By the end of the season, Harrell and Williams grew comfortable in their sixth and seventh man roles, but they were huge pieces for the Clippers surprising surge into the playoffs and competitive series against a mostly-healthy Warriors team.
Harrell was second on the team in total minutes played, second in per 36 minutes and per 100 possessions statistics, second in advanced analytics, second in field goal percentage, and third on the team in offensive plus/ minus statistics.
The bottom line is Harrell was a complete difference-maker and an absolute ball of energy off the bench last year for a Clippers team lacking any big names or depth.
Now, Harrell figures to vie for a starting spot in 2019-20 and could be a huge factor on a squad that should be in the top three favorites to win the NBA title. With Beverly as the likely starting point guard, George at the guard/forward, plus Leonard, Landy Shamet, Mo Harkless, and Williams on the wing, Harrell would be a perfect fit as a do-it-all big who can create extra possessions and bring energy.
If Harrell gets starters minutes with this squad, which he more than proved he can handle by playing in 82 games in 2019 (tied, most on the team) he could propel them to another level.
Regardless of if he starts on not, however, Harrell and the Clippers should be one of the most feared teams in the NBA. West has amassed a group of some of the best hustle players in the league, including two former Defensive Player of the Year nominees.
With an anchor in the middle who can bring efficiency on both ends, this will be the toughest team to beat night in and night out come the 2020 playoffs.