Brandon Clarke may be one of the steals of the 2019 NBA Draft. He had a terrific junior season at Gonzaga and many expected him to be selected in the lottery on draft night. Clarke, however, slipped all the way to pick 21 and fell right into a perfect situation in Memphis where he'll have plenty of minutes available to him to develop into a high-level NBA starter.
If his Summer League performance is any indication, Grizzlies fans will be in for a treat for years to come.
His performance in Vegas earned him Summer League MVP and after finishing with a monster double-double of 15 points, 16 rebounds in the Finals he walked away with the Championship Game MVP as well becoming the first player to win both awards in a single Summer League.
Clarke led Memphis in scoring, averaging 14.7 points to go along with 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game in Las Vegas. He proved to be hyper-efficient on the offensive end, shooting 55% from the field and 56% from three in six games.
🏆👏🏆 @brandonclarke23 becomes the FIRST PLAYER to win @NBASummerLeague MVP & Championship Game MVP in the same #NBASummer! pic.twitter.com/uoEyQdKyOc- NBA (@NBA) July 16, 2019
The 3-point shooting is what's really intriguing with Clarke as he didn't shoot particularly well from range in college - 28% in his final year. However, its something he's worked on since declaring for the draft and a facet of his game that will certainly earn him extra playing time should he continue to make them at a high clip.
Memphis has two great pick-and-roll bigs in Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr. already on the roster. If Clarke can be another hybrid in screen and roll scenarios, it will give fellow rookie Ja Morant enough options to be near the top of the assists leaders in the league.
Brandon Clarke's (23p/14r) DOUBLE PUMP DUNK gives the @memgrizz the lead for good in OT! #NBASummer pic.twitter.com/oDujSrsRTS- NBA (@NBA) July 14, 2019
According to NBA.com , Memphis operated in pick-and-rolls 16.4% of the time last season. Expect that number to increase with Morant at the helm. Clarke fits into that scheme perfect should the Grizzlies choose to go to the two-man game more often.
Clarke has shown at Summer League he's a big target that can catch and finish down the lane or step out and knock down the triple if need be.
Memphis struggles to take and make shots of out pick-and-rolls, only connecting on 39.4% of their field goal attempts last season, which was worst in the NBA.
With Clarke added to the frontline and a possible pairing with one of the most efficient point guards in the NBA in Tyus Jones, expect the Grizzlies to be more effective next season in that category.
While his offence was on display in Las Vegas, Clarke's defence is what brought him to the dance. He'll be invaluable defensively for Memphis as he possesses the ability to switch onto to smaller player and contest long jump shots.
Jackson Jr. showed similar versatility last season, but it's something Valanciunas and - to a lesser extent when he was on the team - Marc Gasol struggled with. The Grizzlies allowed teams to shoot 36% from 3-point range, tied for second-worst in the league.
Clarke has the instincts and range to change that stat for the Grizzlies this season.
What makes Brandon Clarke (@brandonclarke23) so special on defense? His IQ. He has fantastic instincts with the ability to see where plays are headed and affect multiple areas on the same play.- Spencer (@SKPearlman) July 8, 2019
Check out the video below for some clips showcasing his preternatural defensive IQ! pic.twitter.com/VlJbx97eY9
While the numbers say he shot well at Summer League, it is a small sample size and Clarke will have to continue to prove he can be a perimeter threat consistently once the regular season kicks off.
His one-on-one game is also fairly limited. He will have to improve in that area to present more options for the Grizzlies on offence.
If he can continually improve in those areas, it won't be too long before Clarke is starting alongside Jackson Jr. in the Memphis frontcourt.
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