Player preview: Earl Clark
Why did I pick Earl Clark before those remaining?
I actually didn’t. This is one of the extra articles I picked up for Chris, but I totally understand why Chris picked Clark here. Clark will either start at small forward or get a lot of back up time. Unless he’s a total disappointment, which has to be in play given his lack of experience. But let’s pretend I didn’t just write that and assume that Clark will be part of some sort of small forward rotation for the Cavaliers this year. That makes him at least the 9th most important player for this team, which actually feels about right.
What does Earl Clark bring to the team this year?
By all appearances, Earl Clark was brought in to do what Alonzo Gee does, but at a slightly higher level. Some of you might be asking, "what exactly does Alonzo Gee do?" I will leave a detailed discussion of Gee for later, but for now, we should all understand that these two guys are supposed to be effective on defense and shoot a few corner threes. The Cavaliers are planning on above average guard and post play combined with non-abysmal SF play. Either Clark or Gee will be counted on to not be abysmal, or they could combine for a non-abysmal platoon. Which one will be more important this year? Check the below stats.
Player A: FG%: .410 3P%: .315 Rebs: 3.9 Stl: 1.3 Pts: 10.3
Player B: FG%: .427 3P%: .328 Rebs: 6.2 Stl: 1.1 Pts: 8.6
Player C: FG%: .440 3P%: .337 Rebs: 5.5 Stl: 0.6 Pts: 7.3
Player A is Alonzo Gee last year, player C is Earl Clark last year, and player B is a mythical player I added to make it harder for you guys to guess. By these stats alone, it seems like Earl Clark should be able to provide a decent upgrade over Alonzo Gee.
The only problem with that is Clark’s durability. A few stats I neglected to show you above: Alonzo Gee GP: 82 GS: 82 Min: 31. Earl Clark GP: 59 GS: 36 Min: 23.1. And these are just last year’s numbers. If we go back, the distance in durability widens even further, and the rest of Clark’s numbers pretty much fall into the gutter.
So Earl Clark may represent a shooting, rebounding and spacing upgrade over Alonzo Gee with some increased length on defense, but we’re going on an extremely small sample size, and perhaps even dealing with some overworking on Alonzo Gee’s part.
What does all this mean? I think Gee is still the starter, with Earl Clark coming off the bench for a similar amount of minutes to what he played last year. This arrangement should result in decent small forward play. I could be dead wrong, and Mike Brown could do the exact opposite of what I predicted, but I’ll live with my prediction.
What is Earl Clark’s long-term potential with the Cavaliers?
This is a very tricky question. If Clark continues his rise in play from last year, he could develop into a decent starter or an excellent option of the bench for a playoff team. If not, small forward will be the primary position that must be addressed next season, which would make Clark nothing more than a decent depth option.