Montrezl Harrell
The Clippers are already good enough with their new star power. It’s the supporting cast led by Montrezl Harrell that takes them over the top. Harrell is the biggest X-Factor in the NBA. (Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports)

Montrezl Harrell Is The Clippers Biggest X-Factor

As the NBA season inches closer and closer, the main belief is that there will finally be parity in the sport. The Warriors lost Kevin Durant this offseason and the rest of the league has loaded up a bunch of dynamic duos. Coming into this season, 10 teams probably feel like they have a realistic shot to win it. That is not my belief. The Clippers should be prohibitive favorites. It’s one thing that the Clippers have the best duo in the form of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. They also have the best supporting cast outside of the duo. It’s players like Montrezl Harrell that really takes the Clippers over the top. Montrezl Harrell is the Clippers biggest X-Factor that takes them for being good to elite.

With Kevin Durant hurt, Kawhi Leonard is the unquestioned best player in the NBA. I’m not sure it’s really arguable either. He just won the title with the Raptors. A team notoriously known for choking in the playoffs. He told the Spurs to f*ck off, got traded to a place he didn’t want to play, and then won a championship anyway. Paul George is also a top 10 player himself. If nothing else, it’s the best defensive superstar pairing in the league. Not sure that’s really debatable.

If you’re going to beat the Clippers, you’re going to have to do it when those guys aren’t on the floor. Often times the teams that have star players aren’t deep. For years, the Warriors didn’t have a reliable bench. That’s not the case with the Clippers. This is a very deep roster. Players like Lou Williams, Mo Harkless, Rodney McGruder, and Harrell are coming off the bench. Imagine if the Clippers nail their first round pick and Mfiondu Kabengele pops. What if Jermone Robinson takes a leap? JaMychal Green is like the 12th man on this team. It’s a deep roster.

The Clippers were the darling underachieving team last year. They traded Tobias Harris at the deadline and still made the playoffs. The biggest strength of last years team was the Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell combo. Those team routinely destroyed the oppositions bench. It was the best bench combo in the league. Nobody could stop the Lou Will and Harrell pick and pop all year.

Chemistry matters in this league. The Williams and Harrell duo is about as good as it gets. Harrell is too athletic for most big men. Plus his motor is off the charts. He will clean up more misses than most guys because he wants it more. He’s also not afraid to get dirty and set a good screen. Combine that with Lou Williams who has always been a prolific scorer. Harrell only needs to give Lou an inch and he will knock the shot down.

The best duo on the Clippers last year was the Harrell and Williams duo. They produced a net rating of +4.3 when they were on the floor together. It was the best tandem the Clippers had last year. Keep in mind, they did that without Leonard and George too. Despite not having a star on the roster, Harrell’s impact was undeniable. When he was on the floor, the Clippers had a higher field goal percentage, offensive rebounding percentage, steal percentage, fewer turnovers, and positive +/-. That’s just some of them. It’s actually insane if you check it out.

Harrell is just a really good player. He’s one of the most underrated players in the league. Hell, he might just be a top 5-10 big man in the sport. No, I’m not overreacting. He’s that good. Harrell averaged close to 17 points per game across just 26 minutes a night while shooting .615 percent from the floor. He’s also a dog on the glass and around the paint. When Harrell gets the ball, he’s going to score and then scream in your face.

Harrell epitomizes what the Clippers are. No team played with more fire and energy a year ago. Now they added two stars to a team full of hungry dogs. In a league that is becoming increasingly soft, Harrell is one of the few guys in the league you don’t want to see in a dark ally. That means something.

Harrell’s skill set is perfect for the modern NBA. He can knock down a shot if he needs to but more importantly can run the floor. The NBA is only getting faster and faster. You need guys that can get up and down. Harrell can do that. He can also protect the rim and slam it down. Name another team in the NBA that match what the Clippers have with Harrell? Now think of another team that has two of them adding in Ivica Zubac. Now Zubac is more agile than Harrell but both guys can put the ball in the hoop and protect the rim. That’s what you want today.

The Clippers not only have a talent edge on everyone. They also have an attitude edge. Patrick Beverley is the biggest pest in the NBA. Montrezl Harrell might be the nastiest big guy in the NBA. The crosstown Lakers can’t rival that kind of spirit. Instead, they will counter with washed up JaVale McGee and big pus Anthony Davis who’s too soft to play center. I can promise you that’s going to matter in a playoff series.

Harrell, 25, is only getting better. The former Louisville product had a win share of 8.5 off the bench. Outplaying a starting 5 of Pat Beverley, Landry Shamet, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Ivica Zubac is hard enough. Trying to outdo that and then outgun the best bench duo of Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams is another challenge in itself. If you’re not outscoring this Clippers team when Kawhi and Paul George sit, then you have no chance. The Clips superstars are already good enough to win a title by themselves. It’s the supporting cast that takes them over the top. That unit starts with Montrezl Harrell and is the biggest X-Factor in the NBA.