FanPost

The Free Agent Files: Earl Clark

With free agency right around the corner and the Nets in need of some more complementary pieces, let's talk about some players on the market that might make a positive impact for Brooklyn if they were to come here. The first person up in our little series is Earl Clark of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Clark was a former Phoenix Sun who was a throw in in the trade that sent Marcin Gortat & Vince Carter from Orlando to Phoenix and Hedo Turkoglu and Jason RIchardson from Phoenix to Orlando. Clark wasn't much of a factor for the Magic, as he appeared in only 78 regular season games in his two seasons there and averaging about 12 minutes per contest. Writing at Orlando Pinstriped Post, Evan Dunlap said this about Clark:

For all his offensive flaws, Clark's an above-average help defender with good rebounding instincts on both ends of the floor. Those skills, coupled with his energy, make him an option as a situational player.

The 2012-2013 season

How was Clark's season? Let's take a look:

Metric

Earl Clark

Small Forwards in 2012-2013

Games Played

58

47

Minutes per game

23.1

20

True Shooting percentage

51.0

53.6

Assist rate

12.14

14.03

Turnover rate

12.9

10.29

Usage rate

15.79

17.85

Rebound rate

13.3

9.8

PER

12.47

11.48

Win Shares per 48

.080

.099

Clark joined the regular rotation on January 8th against the Rockets. Throughout that time period, he averaged 27 minutes per game. He saw an increase in his minutes due to the injuries suffered by Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill.

When we look at the way Clark gets his offense, we see that he relies on a lot of jumpshots. Of his 386 field goal attempts, 233 of them came from at least 16 feet. He wasn't bad from 16-24 feet, as he converted 37.1 percent of his attempts, which is a shade below the league average of 38.4 percent. Throughout the season, Clark has looked to add the three pointer to his repertoire. In his first three seasons, Clark took ten three pointers combined. This season, he averaged around two threes a contest, and he hit on 34 percent of them. It's probably a result of playing under Mike D'Antoni, but it's very nice to see Clark adding the three pointer to his game.

The area in which Clark had the most success was around the basket. He shot 60.6 percent, which put him in the upper half of players in the league. Compared to his teammates, it wasn't that exemplary, as he was seventh on the team in FG percentage inside the restricted area.

The majority of Clark's minutes were at the power forward position, and he certainly has the size for it. Clark is listed at 6'10 and 225 lbs, and that size can pose a deterrent to power forwards such as Paul Millsap. However, the Lakers did not fare that well defensively with Clark on the court. They allowed 105.4 points per 100 possessions with Clark in the game, which was a few points higher than their average on the whole. Of course, whenever we look at defensive (well, anything) metrics, we have to always consider context. And for Clark, he spent a lot of time on the court with Steve Nash, a notoriously poor defender, an injured (but still quite good) Dwight Howard, and a defensively disinterested Kobe Bryant. As an individual defender, Clark looks pretty good, as he held opposing power forwards to a 16.7 PER and 52.3 effective field goal percentage, both of which are right around league average.

How does he look compared to the current starters?

Metric

Earl Clark

Gerald Wallace

Reggie Evans

Games Played

58

69 80

Minutes per game

23.1

30.1 24.6

True Shooting percentage

51 49 50.6

Assist rate

12.14 22.16 8.19

Turnover rate

12.9 16.9 23.6

Usage rate

15.79 14.5 11

Rebound rate

13.3 9.1 26.7

PER

12.47 11.6 12.8

Win Shares per 48

.080 .072 .105

Compared to Wallace and Evans, Clark looks pretty good. Evans' main source value comes in his rebounding (he led the league in rebounding this year) and not much else. Almost all of Evans' field goal attempts came from within eight feet, and he only shot 49.6 percent on those attempts, and was blocked 46 times. The defense actually didn't take a step back when he was in the game, but with the influx of power forwards that can operate successfully on the perimeter makes it difficult for Evans to keep up.

As for Wallace, it wasn't a good season. Outside of a few games in the playoffs, Wallace was virtually invisible this year. From confusion about his role on offense, injuries, and an absurd amount of three point attempts (for him), Wallace struggled in all areas on offense. Something that stood out (to me) was Wallace's decline around the basket area. For the past four seasons, Wallace has seen a decline in his field goal percentage at the rim.

Would he help?

I believe so. Clark is young and due to the lack of minutes he received in his early years in the league, has a lot of mileage on his legs. He's a long defender that doesn't hinder his team defense and has enough length to bother big power forwards and enough agility to hang with the quicker 3's. In his first real taste of extended playing time, he has shown an ability to finish at the rim. He has a decent jumpshot and has been looking to expand his range. Of course, the big thing for Clark if he were to join the Nets would be how he is used offensively. When the Nets hire their new head coach, he would be best served to feature plays that have Clark attacking the basket. His ability to defend, finish at the rim and pop the occasional jumper would help Clark improve the nets and serve as a viable substitute in the (highly likely) event Wallace goes down with an injury.

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