I know an analysis of Earl Clark has been done before, but I think now that we have potential rebounding issues, the issue become more important. With people throwing in Hedo Turkoglu (more a 2 than a 4, and more a 3 than either) and a recent fanpost jettisoning Carmelo Anthony into our possible realm (impossible, knowing that Melo will probably milk free agency for a max deal somewhere), we have to look at our options at the 4. But wait! What if the answer at the 4 is right under our nose? Let's take a look. I'm not saying that he is...I'm saying that based on past performance, he could be.My first thought is to take a look at all levels of play of Earl Clark.
-Summer league (rookie year)
-Summer league (this summer)
Some highlights from the University of Louisville's website.
- Averaged 25.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and five assists as a senior in leading Rahway to a 22-8 record and the school's first sectional championship in 10 years and its first-ever Mountain Valley Conference title.
- Scored 1,245 career points at Rahway, leading his team to a 47-19 record in his two and a half seasons as a starter there.
- Star-Ledger Senior of the Year in New Jersey and an all-state selection.
- A 2006 McDonald's All-America selection, the 17th U of L player to achieve that honor. He also earned All-America honors by Parade Magazine (fourth team) and EA Sports (second team).
- Scored a season-high 41 points, grabbed 21 rebounds and blocked five shots in leading Rahway to a 75-63 victory over Newark Weequahic in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 2 semifinals.
- Averaged 18.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.2 blocked shots as a junior in helping Rahway High School to an 18-5 record and the state sectional finals.
- Ranked as the top recruit in the New Jersey and the New York City metro area by RivalsHoops, as well as the No. 15 prospect in the nation. He is ranked 11th in the nation by USA Today recruiting analyst Rob Harrington, 21st by Scout.com, 22nd by Van Coleman, 27th by Bob Gibbons' All-Star Sports and No. 31 by The Hoop Scoop.
- A four-year starter at Rahway, he also considered Villanova before signing with the Cardinals.
OK, so any top recruit these days can average 25 and 13 in high school. But, how many times have you seen a player put up 41 and 21 in any high school game? Looks promising. Might have reminded you of a taller Jared Sullinger had they been in the same timeframe.
A Rivals.com scouting report on Clark said:
"Clark is a very good ball handler and passer for a player with his length. He is capable of playing the point guard position to the power forward position on the offensive end. Around the basket, he can score, rebound and alter shots. Can make outside shots, but that is an area of his game that could improve. Very fine and versatile prospect."
So he was able to rebound in high school. Two affirmed sources have confirmed this. You'd like a 13 RPG player on our team, wouldn't you? I certainly would.
That's probably the best free place to get Earl Clark advanced statistics.
As a freshman:
He had a solid freshman year (PER of 19.7). In 16 minutes he put up 5.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG and .7 SPG. Rick Pitino employs a fairly medium tempo offense, so in an accelerated system like the Suns' you have to adjust for pace. Per 40, in '06-'07 Clark put up 14.9 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.7 SPG an 1.1 BPG. Even if you gave Earl Clark 35 MPG he'd probably still give you 12, 7, 1.3 and .8 or something like that, respectively. You'd say to yourself, "he's definitely a lottery pick." Of course, if that had happened he's be somebody else's intriguing prospect.
As a sophomore:
Here's where things get interesting.
Clark averaged 28.5 MPG, 11.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1 SPG and 1 BPG. In terms of percentages out of team: 21.9% TRB, 34.1% BLK, 12.1% STL and (interestingly enough) 23.1% DRB. To give you an idea: Brook Lopez averaged 20.9% TRB that year. Tyler Hansbrough averaged 22.8% DRB. DeJuan Blair averaged 22.3% DRB. Brook Lopez averaged 20.6% DRB. Anthony Randolph averaged better, but only by .3%. Blake Griffin averaged 1% better than Clark (that was Griffin's freshman year).
Per 40, Clark averaged 15.6 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 1.4 SPG and 2.4 BPG.
As a junior:
Strangely enough, it seems like Earl Clark took a step back in terms of efficiency. Clark's actual stats increased to 14.2 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.0 SPG and 1.4 BPG. He also averaged 34.3 MPG. Considering that he was given 6 more minutes per game, you'd expect something like 16, 10, 4, 1.5 and 1.5 or something like that.
To be fair, that probably has something more to do with Terrence Williams. Williams, a teammate of Clark's, did a lot of the same things that Clark did and was generally considered the leader of the team. Williams lead the NCAA's in steals, was 12th best in the NCAA's in assists, was 6th best in the NCAA's in defensive rebounds and 10th best in defensive rebounds per game. Earl Clark, meanwhile, was good for 18th best in the NCAA's in defensive rebounds. With Williams given the green light, how was Clark supposed to improve in all the areas that he wasn't allowed to improve in (especially scoring, assists and defensive rebounding)?
Clark, as we all know, was drafted 14th in 2009.
Summer league (rookie year)
Clark averaged 27.8 MPG, 11.3 PPG, 7 RPG (5.8 of those defensive), .8 SPG and 1 BPG.
These numbers compare pretty similarly to his sophomore year. This was definitely one of his better years in college.
Clark averaged 2.7 PPG, 1.2 RPG and not much else in 7.5 MPG This was good for a PER of 8.5, which is fairly terrible if 15.0 is average. Per 36 he averaged 13.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2 APG, 1.2 BPG and .7 SPG. That, actually, would have been a solid rookie year. What if Amar'e had been traded to the Cavs? You'd see Clark at PF for a lot of his minutes and he'd end up with those stats.
Against the Minnesota Timberwolves he scored 14 points in 13 minutes on 11/27/09. Against the Lakers he had 10 points, 8 rebounds and 1 BLK shooting 5-9 from the floor and 0-2 from the line. Those are the highlights of his season.
Not much to write home about.
The competition is significantly easier in the D-League, and Clark must have saw it as such.
He averaged 20.7 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1 BPG, .7 SPG shooting 50.0% from the floor in 3 games. Clark was the main offensive option in those three games. The Energy won all three games that Clark played. The Energy beat the Sioux Falls Skyforce with Clark by 27 points.
Clark was out of shape for the 2010 Summer League, but he still averaged 28 MPG, 14.8 PPG and 5.8 RPG. Not great, though.
Overall, Earl Clark is not the bonafide answer to every problem we have at the 4. He's only 22, though, and we can expect him to continue to improve. He seems a bit like a less talented Anthony Randolph or Lamar Odom. I think, just as Robin Lopez pulled his act together midway through last year, so may Clark. Goran Dragic also improved mightily in his second year.
My thought is that Earl Clark needs to be given the chance to start. If he fails, let him fail. If he succeeds, let him succeed. If he plays well or poorly, just let him play in general. It seems that when given the chance to be an important member of the team he shines, and when he's overlooked and downtrodden he shines much less.
Whatever will become of Earl Clark on our team, he's definitely an intriguing prospect in the right system.