Montrezl Harrell Puts Philly Toughness on Display in Home Debut

Montrezl Harrell, Sixers

Getty Montrezl Harrell #5 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts during the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Wells Fargo Center on October 05, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia 76ers returned to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time in the 2022-23 season. It may have still been a preseason exhibition but, unlike the first preseason game, the Sixers rolled out the regular starters and gave the fans a chance to see the new-look roster. Joel Embiid, James Harden, and the rest of the starters took a seat after the first half and allowed some bench unit guys to get their chances on the court. During this time, it was Montrezl Harrell who stole the show. He even capped off the 13-point performance with a go-ahead layup with 26.7 seconds remaining to push the Sixers toward their preseason victory.

Harrell’s ‘Philly’ Toughness

In his 16 minutes of play, Harrell ended with 13 points, three rebounds, two assists, and a block. He also shot five of seven from the field. However, it is not just the on-court production that has rapidly endeared him to the fan base. The grit and toughness that Harrell embodies are making him a Sixers fan favorite and this has been a missing ingredient on the teams in recent years.

Despite it only being preseason, Harrell competed as if the team was in the NBA Finals. He screamed in opponents’ faces after dunks, had a back and forth with Donovan Mitchell on the bench while Harrell was at the free-throw line, and even blew kisses at the Cavaliers bench after knocking down a jump shot.

The level of intensity was immediately raised when Harrell took the floor which is a testament to what he provides to the team. Many players are known to sleepwalk through the preseason, but this was far from the case with the former Sixth Man of the Year. His ability to set the tone will be important to the bench unit throughout the year and one can only believe he will kick things up another notch when the regular season starts.

BBall Paul’s Minutes in Jeopardy?

The only issue with the presence of Harrell is it could eat into the minutes of another fan favorite in Paul Reed. Neither of the two players are traditional big men but will serve the primary role of backing up Embiid. Reed appears to have the inside track on the job as things currently stand, but the two have very different skill sets and could see the matchup dictate their opportunities.

The Sixers also experimented with having both Reed and Harrell on the court during tonight’s preseason victory. It will be interesting to see if this translates to the regular season, but the concept is intriguing.

In some ways, Harrell and Reed are opposite versions of each other. Harrell is much more gifted offensively and will carry a key part of the scoring load for the second unit. In contrast, it is Reed’s defense that will consistently earn him opportunities. His ability to move his feet on the perimeter and stick with guards in addition to rim protection is rare for a player his size. Both guys are known to leave it all on the floor and neither is not afraid to get themselves into foul trouble in the process.

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Regardless of how the minutes shake out, both Reed and Harrell are sure to leave their marks on this Sixers team. The growth of Reed and the impact of Harrell are already being seen and will surely increase as the regular season starts. Having this type of competition on the Sixers bench is a refreshing problem for the team to be dealing with.

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