Eastern Notes: Harrell, Gafford, Raptors, Pistons

Sixers free agent addition Montrezl Harrell would ideally be used as a situational player rather than a primary backup center, according to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com. In 71 games (23.1 MPG) split between the Wizards and Hornets last season, Harrell averaged 13.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 2.0 APG while shooting 64.5% from the floor and a career-high 71.6% from the line.

As Neubeck observes, Harrell will not only be reunited with former Rockets teammate James Harden, who reportedly played a major role in recruiting Harrell, but he’ll be playing under Doc Rivers once again as well — his former Clippers head coach.

Harrell won the Sixth Man of the Year award with the Clippers and Rivers a couple of years ago, but struggled defensively in the postseason, and Rivers stubbornly stuck with him. It remains to be seen whether Rivers will be more flexible with his lineups than he has been in the past, Neubeck notes.

The 28-year-old’s distinct strengths (energy, finishing at the rim) and weaknesses (size, defense) make it hard to rely on him in every matchup, but he should be well-positioned for a more defined role behind Joel Embiid, Neubeck writes.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Scouts are split in their opinions regarding Wizards center Daniel Gafford due to his inconsistency, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Robbins takes an in-depth look at Gafford’s strengths and weaknesses, using video clips and stats, and querying scouts to get a well-rounded take on Gafford’s game and what he might develop into in the future.
  • The Raptors didn’t make any splashy offseason moves, and may not be a top contender to come out of the East, but they’re not stuck in the middle either, argues Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Toronto is trying to develop young players while being as competitive as possible, which is a difficult balancing act at times, but the team has successfully managed it in the past, according to Koreen, who adds that the Raptors have consistently exceeded their expected win totals under president Masai Ujiri.
  • In a mailbag column for The Athletic, James Edwards III tackles a number of Pistons-related topics. Edwards thinks second-year wing Isaiah Livers is a prime breakout candidate, Isaiah Stewart‘s three-point shooting from Summer League should carry over into the 2022/23 season, and veterans Cory Joseph, Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel and Kelly Olynyk should all have more trade value as the in-season deadline nears.
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