Montrezl Harrell stepping up for the Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CA – Montrezl Harrell is having a phenomenal year, and he has stepped up big time in Anthony Davis’s absence. The Lakers are taking advantage of his skill set now that they are getting more comfortable with his game. 

In the Lakers’ 96-93 win against the Orlando Magic, Harrell had a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Harrell made it real clear to reporters that they are not trying to “get by” without Davis and Lebron James. He reassures they are looking to compete as if the two superstars were on the court.

“Players have to learn from each other. Relationships have to be built and grow over the course of the season. Guys are learning,” says Lakers head coach Frank Vogel.

Vogel stated that the Lakers sixth man has a unique ability to find space in the paint and finish. According to Vogel, Harrell has been invaluable.

“He’s been a huge part of our success this season, especially with Marc and Anthony out,” Vogel said. “We are leaning more on him. I don’t know what his situation was like last year, but he’s liked by the guys in our locker room.”

March 16, 2021, Los Angeles, California, USA: Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the ball during their regular season NBA game with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday March 16, 2021 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Lakers defeat Timberwolves, 137-121. (Photo by PI/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)

Harrell, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, says he doesn’t take any games for granted.

“Every day in this game is a blessing,” Harrell said. 

Harrell has played with many superstars in his career, and he didn’t hesitate to give credit where it’s due. 

“Yes, in my career, I’ve been around numerous great players in this game,” Harrell said. “James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, Nene, Kawhi, PG, and Lou Williams. I can keep going for days. I’m with a completely different All-Star [Davis] and completely different superstar [James]. With me being able to play with those superstars helped me learn the ins and outs.”

Harrell is second in the NBA with 12 twenty-point games off the bench behind Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson. 

Harrell’s impact on the Lakers has been huge this season. With Andre Drummond now officially signed with the team, the towering center is expected to pay dividends in the Lakers’ quest to repeat as champs.  And speaking of expectations, Talen Horton-Tucker (THT) is becoming an essential piece for the Lakers, playing big minutes.  

In a recent win against the Warriors, Horton-Tucker got his career-high and first double-double with 18 points and 10 assists. He followed up that performance with 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists in the Lakers’ win against Minnesota. The breakthrough is finally coming for Horton-Tucker.

Horton-Tucker’s decision-making ability has earned the Laker’s trust, and they will use his length to disrupt offenses. Vogel said the opportunities he has gotten this year don’t compare to what Horton-Tucker experienced last season. He was thrown in the rotations, which shows the confidence the Lakers have in him.

Vogel said this year would be a whole level because of his experience in the regular season. The Lakers have been focused on sharing the ball all year. Vogel and the coaching staff are always making sure Horton-Tucker is making the right decisions.

“He’s got a unique ability to get in the lane. He’s figuring out the length of the NBA,” says Vogel.

THT said he’s only going to get better with time.

“Listening to the older guys is only going to get me better,” Horton-Tucker said. “I feel like you got to have that approach when you’re around guys like this. Being able to come in and help is great for me.”

James said THT is a sponge and applies the information on the floor. “He doesn’t say much, but when you talk to him, you can tell he’s listening. This is basically his rookie season. We’re happy we have him.”

James continued, “Let’s be honest, if you go back in the draft and re-do the draft from last year, Talen Horton-Tucker would not go in the second round. We’re super-duper lucky and blessed to be able to grab him.

Learning from James is like a gift, says Horton-Tucker.

“Being able to be around him [James] and pick up on little things that he does is always great,” James told THT that he’s learning from him just as THT is learning from him. 

When THT was drafted in the second round, that never left his mind.  THT says he thinks about it every day. He feels confident playing against the top two picks in last year’s draft.

“Being able to go out and compete against them, this is something that I want. I feel confident when I’m out there with two.”

THT said he would get better with time. He states there are veterans that will continue to spread wisdom.

Featured Image: March 26, 2021, Los Angeles, California, USA: Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the ball during their regular season NBA game with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, March 26, 2021 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Lakers defeat Cavaliers, 100-86. (Photo by PI/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)