The All-Star Game has come and gone and now we get to relax for a few days while the All-Star break is underway. That gives us all time to watch more college basketball — where the real action is at, am I right? This week’s Spurs prospect is someone that many people on Twitter have been asking me about and have been wanting me to take a look at for some time now. So to appease everyone out there, I’ll be taking a look at Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke.
The 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward out of Phoenix is a defensive juggernaut and highly efficient offensive player. However, his offense is generated through his driving and occasional post-ups. Here are some of his numbers for reference (updated to the end of the season):
- 16.9 PPG, 1.2 SPG, 3.2 BPG, 1.9 APG, 8.6 RPG
- 68.7 FG%, 69.4 FT%
- 37.2 PER, 137.9 ORtg, 84.0 DRtg
Clarke is a highly efficient, low-usage player who could really help out the Spurs. He would be a fantastic rim protector at his position and can keep up with the faster forwards out there and should not have trouble switching on to guards for short periods of time during a game. He should never be asked to guard true centers (think Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and others like them) since he is not only not tall enough, but also a bit on the skinny side right now. However, that lack of girth has given him supreme jumping abilities and explosiveness rivaled by only a few players in this draft class. He gets up quickly off one foot or two and has a major plus wingspan (greater than his height) that helps him swat so many shots.
While most players talk about improving their shooting form or some other part of their game, Clarke has very much been about it. He’s overhauled his form and it has led to a more repeatable and smoother-looking shot. You can see the major difference in Clarke’s shot at the 3:00 mark in the video below. He went from cocking the ball to the side of his head to having a more normal, straight on shot.
He’s clearly made some strides here and while it hasn’t led to more range on his shot this season, it bodes well for shooting projections and should help him solidify his spot on a team. If he can make that drastic a change over one year then you can certainly expect even more improvement with a dedicated shooting coach to help him and plenty of free time outside of games and team practices.
There’s more to Clarke than his defensive abilities and improved shooting though. He can take bigger defenders off the dribble and has a solid post-up game to accompany all that. He has a great spin move he uses often and well. He can do it coming from the top of the horn or from the baseline to get back to the middle of the paint. He complements this spin move with a great touch around the basket and ability to finish at a ton of weird and awkward angles. He’s got great toucher on his floater from the middle of the paint as well, which has become a commonplace thanks to the likes of former Spurs great Tony Parker.
The Bulldog forward has some work to do once he gets drafted, but he is definitely a guy who can become a defensive stopper on a team immediately. He checks off all the major boxes you want like quick-twitch athleticism, jumping ability, quickness, awareness, high motor, speedy reaction to plays and wingspan (Jay Bilas’s favorite).
He is one pick I wouldn’t mind seeing the Spurs get, simply because he is very similar in size and athleticism to Rudy Gay and may even be a better defender. I am all for having a back court of Murray Walker DeRozan with Clarke at the 4 and LMA at the 5. There is a trade that would move the Spurs into the top 3 but it is risky. I say White Metu and Toronto 1st round pick to Phoenix for their pick if it isn’t #1 if it is one than whoever has 2 or 3. No team is silly enough to trade away Zion Williamson for anyone else. This guy may be a combo of MJ and LeBron rolled into one. It would be foolish for the #1 team to trade him away for anyone.