If Jared Sullinger continues to have issues meeting the Celtics' conditioning standards, it's very possible Boston could be looking for a power forward to eventually replace him in the 2015 NBA Draft. If so, junior PF/C Montrezl Harrell of Louisville, makes for an intriguing option who will likely be available when they pick in the 1st round.
Montrezl (the L is silent) is a 6'8", 240 lb all-out high energy power forward. The kind of heart and hustle player that will bring the intensity in his game every night. Sometimes a bit too much maybe. He's one of those guys who when on your team, you love him. On any other team, you hate him.
He's probably not a future superstar, but ESPN's Chad Ford says scouts are convinced Harrell could be "a terrific rotation player on a good team" and he should land somewhere in the mid-to-late 1st round of the NBA Draft.
Harrell lacks ideal elite size for a PF/C, but he certainly has the strength for the NBA and won't be bullied. Similar body type to Sullinger or maybe even more so, Kenneth Faried. For his size and weight, Harrell definitely has some above average ups. Finishing above the rim is his forte.
With averages of 15.7 points and 9.2 rebounds this season, Harrell improved his already impressive numbers from his sophomore year at Louisville where he put up 14 points and 8.4 rebounds. His FG% took a slight drop, but nothing too alarming, and likely due to him trying to prove he could expand his game.
Unfortunately he did little to prove that, and probably didn't help or hurt his draft stock at all as compared to last year. Harrell has been on NBA scout's draft radars since he helped the Cardinals win the National Championship as a freshman reserve in 2013. He came close to leading the Cardinals to another Final Four trip this year as a junior, but the 4th seeded Louisville team was upset by the Michigan St. Spartans in what would be Harrell's final collegiate performance.
Harrell is excellent from close range, but don't expect him to provide much else on the offensive end. Not yet anyway. He lacks in the low post, his free throw form is downright hideous, and his mid-range jump shot is far from pretty. Definitely a work in progress.
According to ESPN's Fran Fraschilla:
This season, Harrell shot 156 midrange jump shots, connecting on 36 percent of them. While Harrell made nearly 80 percent of his shots at the rim in half-court situations, many came on rebound putbacks and dump-offs for dunks off guard penetration. But, at the moment, he does not possess a low-post move that can be counted on. In fact, there are many times when he struggles to score over length.
On the defensive side Harrell utilizes his 7'3" wingspan to get in passing lanes and disrupt shooters, and his strength to keep his matchups from getting close to the rim. He finished the season this year averaging about a block and steal each per game. He does not have the greatest rebounding technique, and will surely need to learn to use his body more on box outs. Very quick considering his size. Moves very well in transition for a big.
Montrezl has the potential to be lethal in pick & roll sets as he can set hard screens with his strong frame, and then has the ability to throw down the lob as the roll man. It should be mentioned, he's also had some rare moments where he's shown some immaturity on court, letting his intensity get the best of his emotions.
Louisville teammates Terry Rozier and Harrell both declared for the draft earlier this week. From Dan Feldman at NBCSports.com: Louisville Coach Rick Pitino was quoted,
They’re both leaving, yes — 100 percent, And it’s the right thing to do for both of them. You all may have some doubts about Terry, but I don’t.
No one has any doubts about Harrell. He's a first rounder, maybe a lottery pick, but likely just outside it. Should he be a player the Celtics target with a mid-round 1st pick?
Montrezl Harrell is a tough, scrappy player who could have an immediate impact for the right team no doubt. I just don't feel like Boston is the right team. Pair him with a flashy razzle-dazzle crossover point guard, like a Steph Curry or Damian Lillard, I think he could hold his own offensively and provide a solid game on both ends and be a good role guy off the bench. But I feel that he'd struggle in coach Brad Stevens' half court sets. He can't post up on the block, and really isn't as good a rebounder as his stats suggest.
The transition game is something I love about him, and he'd certainly be a great replacement for Sullinger if the Celtics chose to move him or let him walk in free agency. But I just have a feeling there will be better talent with more upside available to the Celtics when they pick. By my measure there are at least five or six players at his position that should be taken before him. Something tells me Harrell may be that guy everyone expects to go 10-20, but may drop even further down.
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