Los Angeles Lakers forward Montrezl Harrell has spent some time this season tasked with defending some of the NBA’s top big men. While listed at 6-foot-8, Harrell has managed to be a serviceable defender in these situations, even if not being quite as effective as Anthony Davis or even Marc Gasol.
Overall, Harrell has been better than advertised on defense. The narrative was that he was an easy target against bigger centers. Harrell still isn’t perfect, but he has provided effective minutes throughout the 2020-21 season.
After helping to hold Karl-Anthony Towns to just 15 points, he was asked about how he approaches guarding bigger players. “I don’t really believe in that ‘smaller’ stuff, man,” Harrell said. “At the end of the day, if you believed in that, the elephant would be the king of the jungle, and that ain’t happening.
“I come out here and put my hard hat on like everybody else on this team. Everybody in this league knows I don’t back down from anybody. I don’t care what your size is and I don’t care what you do.
“At the end of the day it goes back to our coverages. Our coaching staff was mixing up coverages every time KAT caught the ball. Marc’s coverages were different from mine. I don’t think we let him get comfortable. As far as that giving up size stuff, people who know me around this know I don’t back down from anybody.”
While Harrell did discuss coverages as it pertains to him and Gasol, he candidly refused to talk about his defensive role with prior teams. “Honestly, I can’t really even speak to that because you don’t even know what my defensive coverages were in my previous years,” Harrell said.
“I don’t remember them. That’s something in the past and not anything I’m really worried about.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel praised Harrell, Gasol and the Lakers’ guards for competing well against one of the NBA’s best centers. “There’s two parts of it. A guy like KAT can hurt you in so many different ways,” Vogel began.
“I thought Marc really competed in the low-post action and communicated well when we needed to switch out on his 3-point attack, and our guards really listened up.”
“We didn’t do a good enough job on Joker or even Horford before that and somewhat Valanciunas. Our guards were really locked in to getting out to the 3-point line. Trezz competed well in his minutes when they were matched up together. Both centers did a really good job on the big fella.”
Harrell will continue to have chances to improve his defense against bigger players, including a formidable test in Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert in the coming weeks.
Vogel confident in Lakers roster without Anthony Davis
Since the Lakers won’t have Anthony Davis in uniform until at least the All-Star break, they need to figure out how to approach games without one of the league’s top-10 players. Vogel is confident in the roster moving forward.
“I like what we have to go to war with in this stretch we’re going to be without Anthony Davis,” he said. “We’ve got to have a deep team and I’ve got a lot of guys on this roster I believe in. We’re going to have the mindset of we’ve got to continue to win every night we take the floor.”
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