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Power Forward | 6’8 | 250 | Louisville
Projected: Late 1st round
Best Case: Kenneth Faried
Most Likely: Thomas Robinson
Worst Case: Trevor Mbakwe
Montrezl Harrell. A guy often linked to the Blazers in mock draft land. Harrell is the type of prospect that can play with the pace desired by many NBA franchises but can’t provide any of the space they’re also after. Much like Kenneth Faried and Thomas Robinson, Harrell moves like a wing, can dunk with the best of them and will sacrifice his body going after loose balls and highlight reel blocks. He can’t make a jumper or a free throw consistently but the same can be said of high motor players across a number of positions, with MKG and MCW being two that immediately spring to mind. So, after being a big fan of Faried and Robinson as they entered the league, why do I feel a sense of dread when I consider the Blazers picking up Harrell?
Part of it is the result of watching Robinson for two seasons showing flashes of potential, making plays only a handful of other NBA players would attempt, but never really putting things together to become a complete, useful player for the Blazers. I see a lot of similarities in the way Harrell plays – always hard but often bordering on wild. Able to make the spectacular play but not always the smart one. Tenacious on the offensive boards but able to be neutralised somewhat by size and technique on the other end. All of this should be acceptable for a guy projected to be a backup in the NBA, but with how the league is evolving it feels like if you are going to base your effectiveness on hustle rather than skill then you better be big enough to play some smallball center. At 6’7.5 in shoes and with a standing reach shy of 9′, Harrell could only play center in a pinch on the smallest of smallball units (like those Golden State run with Draymond at the 5).
On the flip side, perhaps Harrell’s speed will allow him to stay with stretch power forwards on defense and punish them on the boards and in the pick and roll on the other end. That’s the same argument I made for TRob though, which makes me hesitant to consider it once again with such a similar prospect. If the Blazers wish to take a flyer on a prospect that might find an effective niche as an energy ball power forward and smallball center in the Faried mold, I’d rather they buy a 2nd rounder and take a flyer on Cliff Alexander than spend a 1st round pick on Harrell. No offence Montrezl, I’ve just been burned by your type before.