WASHINGTON -- In order to pull off their best start to a season in 47 years, the Washington Wizards have had to win in a variety of ways. Their 10-3 record includes victories of different brands; a 19-point comeback, blowouts, overtime thrillers, defensive shutdowns and hot shooting nights.
They have also had to win with an evolving rotation. Bradley Beal has missed three games, Daniel Gafford missed two, Davis Bertans has missed six and both Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant have yet to play.
There have been few constants and no player more consistent than Montrezl Harrell. He is the only member of the Wizards who has reached double-figure scoring in all 13 games.
"It's the one thing that no matter how bad things are going, you're gonna have Trezz," head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. "Usually, that turns into positive things. His energy is infectious. His energy on the glass, on the floor, his voice in the locker room. It's a steadying presence and it's invaluable to have."
Harrell leads the team in total points this season (234), averaging 18.0 per game, all while posting career-highs in both rebounds (8.5/g) and assists (2.5/g). He has come off the bench in 11 of his 13 games, but when Gafford went down with a right quad injury, Harrell moved into the starting lineup and helped lead the Wizards to wins over the Hawks and Celtics.
Harrell is averaging a career-high in minutes per game (28.5) and seems to give the Wizards his 100% effort every single second he's on the floor.
"Montrezl is, he's a different animal. I've been playing pro since I was 16, rarely do you see a guy that comes every night to kill," Deni Avdija said. "He's got a knife between his teeth, for sure. And he comes at you and you don't want to mess with him."
Harrell has described his all-out approach in various ways this season. He carries a chip on his shoulder and you can sense that not only by how he plays but by how he carries himself in press conference settings.
Harrell speaks fast and direct to the point. And just about every time he is asked about his performance, he displays his trademark edge.
"I know what I put in my game in the summer and I know how I approach the game every day and that's playing like it's my last game every time I go on the floor. I just leave it all out there on the floor," Harrell said.
Harrell's value for the Wizards goes well beyond his points and rebounds. He is getting to the line 6.2 times per game, most on the team, while shooting 81.3%. That has an effect on the defense, as it can get them into the bonus early.
Harrell also shows up well in numerous hustle categories, as tracked by Second Spectrum. He's 10th in the NBA in screen assists and fourth in box outs.
Harrell is also 11th in the NBA and leads the Wizards in charges taken and one of them provided his most memorable moment in Monday's win over the Pelicans. With 2:18 left in the fourth quarter and the Wizards up by only four points, Harrell drew New Orleans big man Jonas Valanciunas into an offensive foul.
Valanciunas tried to back him down in the post and on the second bump, Harrell fell down and got the call. He immediately got up and screamed to the crowd while beating his chest.
"It was a huge energy momentum swing for the game," Harrell said.
Harrell said that play embodied his mindset on the floor. Fortunately for the Wizards, he brings that element every night.