While he hasn’t always been the best player on the floor, Montrezl Harrell has proven himself to be a great addition for the Los Angeles Lakers. Many were surprised by his signing, but Harrell has definitely broken some pre-conceived notions about his game.
One of his better performances this season came against the Oklahoma City Thunder in an overtime win. In 30 minutes, Harrell scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds while shooting an efficient 9-of-14 from the field. He was also a team high plus-15 after leading several comebacks with his post presence and energy.
Harrell was able to feast due to the Thunder’s lack of strength in the paint. However, he didn’t take this into account when mentally preparing for the game. “I approach things play by play in the game,” Harrell said.
“Just as they had players out, we had two key rotational guys out for us as well. We went out with a great gameplan, we knew they were going to compete and fight all the way until the end of the game, which they did and even forced it into overtime. But no, I didn’t come in with a different mindset than I have every game.”
When asked if he connected with what Wesley Matthews was going through in the same game, Harrell gave a frank and honest answer. “Honestly, no. Wes is a veteran guy, man. He’s been in this league for a long time,” Harrell said.
“He knows how this game goes. It’s not like we’re talking about a second-year or first-year guy. We’re talking about a guy who’s been around this league and knows there’s different coaching strategies, different matchups and different lineups.
“Some nights you might play, some nights you might not. It’s nothing Wes had to learn. It’s something he already knows and it’s something he teaches younger guys like THT when he is getting down on himself. Or even me and A.C., guys who are highly competitive and just want to hold ourselves to a high standard.
“Wesley does a great job coaching us on the sideline when maybe we’re too hard on ourselves.”
Harrell’s mindset is one of the best parts of his play, and it reflects in his opinions about the individual game and the Matthews situation. The first-year Laker knows that nothing is guaranteed in the NBA, so he approaches every game with that same mentality.
The passion and energy that Harrell plays with has helped dig the Lakers out of several holes this season, and that is exactly what he was brought in to do.
Harrell appreciates Lakers free-flowing offense
One of the reasons that Harrell has been a much more positive contributor than the narratives surrounding him suggest is the way the L.A. Clippers used him in previous years. They had no issues telling Harrell not to take jump shots and forcing him into very specific roles.
He appreciates the Lakers allowing him to play his game the way he wants. “The system I had been playing in for a while was it’s got to be 3s, layups or let’s get free throws,” Harrell recently noted.
“But it’s not like that over here. They play to the style of everybody’s game and we’re not looking at anybody like, ‘You’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that.’ We play basketball over here.”
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