Few NBA players have exceeded expectations to the degree Montrezl Harrell has since he entered the league. Harrell has the most win shares and the fourth-highest scoring average among all second round picks since he himself was one in 2015.
As a rookie in Houston, Harrell averaged 3.6 points in 9.7 minutes per game. By his fifth season, then with the Clippers, Harrell averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds and won the Sixth Man of the Year award.
Harrell is now with the Wizards and still only 27 years old. Many NBA players do not hit their prime until 28 or 29. Considering the trajectory of his career, Harrell could still get better and that's what he plans to do.
As Harrell explained in his introductory press conference on Wednesday, there's plenty more he wants to achieve.
"Everything, man. I haven’t been an All-Star in this league since I’ve been here. So, I feel like I have a lot of untapped talents. I haven’t been to an NBA Finals, I haven’t won a championship. There’s a lot of things I haven’t done as a player, so there’s a lot of untapped [potential] that I feel like I can reach," he said.
Harrell was a borderline All-Star in 2019-20 with the Clippers before moving across the Staples Center to join the Lakers. With the Lakers his minutes and shot attempts dropped, so his volume numbers did as well.
But Harrell was more efficient, with a 62.2 effective field goal percentage, up from 58.0 the year before. And, based on his per-36 minute numbers, he improved as a rebounder for the fifth straight year. He had the lowest foul rate of his career and shot the highest free throw percentage.
Even in a season in which his minutes were inconsistent due to a logjam at the center position, Harrell took steps forward.
"Each season that I’ve been in this league, my stats and my work ethic and the things I’ve been doing in this game have gradually improved each year," he said.
Harrell explained in detail his philosophies of hard work and self-improvement. He doesn't take vacations, he says, because he will when he retires. Staying in tip-top physical shape, he believes, will be the key to him lasting "18, 19 years" in the NBA.
That would make him only a third of the way through his career. It may seem like a lofty goal, but he plans to do everything in his power to stick around and keep ascending.
"It’s a testament to my work ethic, it’s a testament to where I’m from [in North Carolina] and being in this area. I’m right back to it now, as you can see, back home working. It’s just all I know," he said.
"I’m just going to continue to get better at my game. I’m blessed to be able to play this game and call it my job, so why not continue to get better at it? Why not continue to grow and prosper if it’s something I love doing?" Harrell said.