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Free Agency 2020

Four stats to know about LA Clippers centre Montrezl Harrell ahead of free agency

Montrezl Harrell is one of the most interesting free agents this offseason.

On one hand, Harrell is coming off of the best season of his career. He averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game during the regular season, career highs that helped him earn the Sixth Man of the Year award. He might be undersized at 6-foot-7, but he's proven to be one of the league's best rim-runners, rollers and offensive rebounders at the centre position.

On the other hand, Harrell was a shell of himself in the season restart. Some of that might have had to do with him being away from the LA Clippers for an extended period of time to tend to a personal matter, but there's a chance Harrell hurt his stock ahead of free agency with his play in the postseason.

MORE: Free agent destinations for Harrell

Even if that's the case, there's no doubt that Harrell is one of the best players available this offseason and that any team in need of a centre (of which there are a few) will consider signing him.

With that in mind, here are four stats to know about Harrell from the 2019-20 season.

3.1: How many points per game Harrell averaged in the post

It represented 18.9 percent of his offence on the season. That was actually down slightly from the season prior (19.4 percent), but his efficiency was way up. Whereas Harrell ranked in the 48th percentile with 0.92 points per post-up possession in 2018-19, he ranked in the 72nd percentile with 0.98 points per post-up possession in 2019-20.

That efficiency combined with the volume made Harrell one of the better post-up scorers in the league this season.

What Harrell lacks in size he makes up for with strength and touch, all of which starts with his hook shot. He rarely looks to finish with his left hand out of the post, but he knows how to create the space he needs to get his shot off over defenders.

Harrell has also developed a face-up game. Again, he's smaller than most traditional centres, but there aren't many centres who can match his speed.

Harrell likes to get the ball in the post, face-up and make a quick move to the paint where he can finish with layups, dunks and floaters. While Harrell ranked around the league average for his position in scoring efficiency at the rim and from floater range this season, he was closer to the top of the league in previous seasons, per Cleaning The Glass.

Harrell isn't someone teams can run their entire offence through in the post - he's not Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokic, in other words - but he has gotten much better at creating offence for himself, to the point where he can take advantage of mismatches when presented.

8.5%: Harrell's shooting percentage outside of the paint

Yeah ... not great.

According to NBA.com, Harrell shot 4-for-29 from midrange and 0-for-18 from 3-point range this season. For his career, he's now 37-for-133 (27.8 percent) from midrange and 5-for-50 (10.0 percent) from 3-point range.

We don't have to spend much time on this. Just know that Harrell isn't someone teams are going to sign in the hopes of him being able to space the floor. It's not like his shooting mechanics are broken, leaving some hope that he could improve as a shooter over the duration of his next contract, but it's not a part of his game we've seen to this point of his career.

127: How many of Harrell's baskets Lou Williams assisted on

Two things:

  1. It was way more than anyone else on the Clippers. Kawhi Leonard ranked second on the team, assisting on 45 of Harrell's baskets.
  2. It represented over a quarter (26.9 percent) of Harrell's total baskets on the season and almost half (43.6 percent) of his assisted baskets.

The latter points to the value of pairing Harrell with a strong pick-and-roll scorer. According to NBA.com, Williams generated 51.2 percent of his offence as the ball handler in the pick-and-roll this season, putting him behind only four players - Derrick Rose, D.J. Augustin, Trae Young and Damian Lillard - for most in the league. Harrell generated only 17.3 percent of his offence as the roll man, but he averaged 3.8 points per game off of those plays. Once again, that was one of the highest rates in the league.

The two have developed great pick-and-roll chemistry over the years. Williams is a dynamic pick-and-roll scorer with his ability to score at all three levels and Harrell is incredibly difficult to stop when he gains any sort of momentum going downhill. As already mentioned, he has a soft enough touch to finish in a variety of ways around the basket, but he's also a dunking machine. Per Stathead, Harrell finished the 2019-20 season with 134 dunks, the seventh-most in the league.

Slide three shooters alongside Harrell and whoever is running the pick-and-roll, and you're in business.

51.4%: What opponents shot against Harrell around the basket

Harrell graded out as one of the most effective rim protectors in the league this season. In holding opponents to 51.4 percent shooting around the rim, he was on the same page as the likes of Kristaps Porzingis, Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert and Serge Ibaka. His height limits his potential as a shot blocker, but Harrell uses all of his 7-foot-4 wingspan to alter shots around the basket.

Now, Harrell has some limitations as a defender - almost all of which came to light in the playoffs, most notably when the Clippers faced the Denver Nuggets in the second round - but he isn't a complete liability on that end of the court. In addition to being an effective rim protector, Harrell provides some switchability, finished in the top half of the league among centres in deflections this season and his 30 charges drawn were second-most in the league behind only Kyle Lowry (34).

Similar to his post-up game, Harrell isn't someone a team is going to build their defence around, but on a good defensive team, he shouldn't stick out like a sore thumb.

The biggest concern with Harrell defensively is on the boards. While he's a terrific offensive rebounder, Harrell ranked in only the 18th percentile for his position in defensive rebounding this season, per Cleaning The Glass. He wasn't much better in previous seasons, ranking in the 16th percentile in 2017-18, followed by the 19th percentile in 2018-19.

If he were a slightly better defender and a much better defensive rebounder, Harrell would likely have a better chance of being a team's starting centre. But as a reserve, those weaknesses aren't as much of an issue.

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