WASHINGTON -- Montrezl Harrell scored in double figures in each of his first 20 games this season. In the six games since, he has done that only twice.
Harrell was arguably the team's best player during the first quarter of the season, but lately his production has dropped off. That, combined with a big defensive night from Daniel Gafford, led to Harrell playing a season-low 18 minutes in Wednesday's win over the Pistons.
After Friday's practice, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. explained how the league has adjusted to guarding Harrell following his hot start to the season.
"Teams are switching and then trying to front him. They’re not letting him catch with as much ease because they know the impact he can have when he catches the ball in the post. I think there’s a concentration to keep him off the offensive glass. So, some of it is, yes, the coverages we’re seeing with him," Unseld Jr. said.
After Wednesday's game, Harrell sent a series of cryptic tweets, which he joked about on Twitter the day after, suggesting they shouldn't be overanalyzed. But on the court, the trademark energy that overwhelmed opposing teams early this season and made him a quick fan favorite has seemingly been lacking.
At least Unseld Jr. feels that way.
"He’s been a big part of our success. We have to continue to find ways to get him involved, but he’s also gotta make sure he’s bringing that energy from the moment he steps on the floor," Unseld Jr. said.
Harrell, 27, is still putting up terrific numbers on the season overall. He's second on the Wizards in scoring (15.2 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg), all while shooting 64.8% from the field.
Harrell's play, however, has paralleled the team's success, which has helped demonstrate how important he is to their cause. They started out 10-3, but have since lost eight of 13. When Harrell was playing well, they were winning and now that he has struggled, so have they.
Unseld Jr. expressed confidence Harrell will have a breakout game soon. The Wizards could sure use one.