1. Montrezl Harrell is a terrible defender
I totally get that the Los Angeles Clippers needed to move on from Montrezl Harrell. It obviously was not a great fit and he was misused in the NBA Playoffs. I cannot fault Clipper fans legitimately being okay with Harrell walking away from the Clippers.
But just because he was not a great fit and had a bad playoff does not mean he is a bad player. Harrell won the Sixth Man of the Year award for a reason and 12 months ago he was supposed to be this dynamic threat that was going to give the Lakers a rough time.
The myth about Harrell’s defense was born from a terrible showing against Nikola Jokic in the NBA Playoffs. And to be fair, Harrell was bad, but Jokic is a generational big man and putting Harrell, who is a small five, on him is just rotation malpractice by Doc Rivers.
Harrell won’t have to be the primary defender for someone such as Jokic as he will have either Anthony Davis or Marc Gasol playing alongside him at all times during the NBA Playoffs. The Lakers *should* utilize him much better and I expect they will.
If Frank Vogel can make Kyle Kuzma a league-average defender then he can make Harrell a plus on the defensive end.
The truth lies in the numbers. According to Basketball-Index, Harrell was just slightly below-average defensively last season with a -0.41 Defensive Player Impact Plus-Minus (PIPM). Serge Ibaka, the player that the Clippers brought in to replace Harrell and is supposed to be a much better defender, posted a marginally better 0.09 DPIPM.