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Cleveland Cavaliers hand Earl Clark opportunity to make a mark

Yash Matange
FEATURED WRITER
Modified 01 Oct 2013, 22:00 IST
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Every player in the NBA wishes he’d be given a fair chance at a spot in the rotation but if your team is 2012 Los Angeles Lakers, think again!

Their star studded starting line up along with an experienced but slow bench left no spot for the 14th overall pick in the 2009 Draft Earl Clarke any spot on the rotation.

Earl Clarke of the Los Angeles Lakers

However an injury to Jordan Hill in early January saw Earl Clarke chosen for the rotation ahead of Robert Sacre and he shined in the limelight. His minutes went up and so did his performance with each game. He played almost 30 minutes all through March when Gasol had succumbed to an injury.

This 6’10 Forward played in 59 games for the Lakers, out of which he started in 36 at Power Forward. His playing time of 20 minutes cannot really be considered a breakthrough as he average 17.6 for the Magic a year earlier.

However it was the impact he made in the minutes on the floor with the Lakers which makes the rest of his stats for the season shine. Except in terms of shooting percentage, Clark had a career year in every other category- BLOCKS, STEALS, POINTS, REBOUNDS.

You name it! The guy had a career high in terms of performance!

One of the Games to remember would be the game against Dallas Mavericks on 2nd April, the night when Shaquille O’Neal’s was to be hanged to the rafters. Though the limelight was stolen by Kobe’s triple double performance Clark had a quiet double double of 17 points and 12 rebounds to go along with 5 blocks for the game.

Clark had 11 double doubles for the season and 10+ points 22 times. Mike D’Antoni was so impressed by his game that he named him a starter even after Gasol had returned to full health.

Fans would have loved to continue seeing him at Staples Center, however he appeared in his last game for the Lakers in Game 4 of the first round of the Playoffs against the Spurs. He agreed with the Cavs on a 2-year deal which offers him 9 milllion.

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Bright future at the Q

Earl Clark with his performance previous season is sure to start at Small Forward for previous season’s 13th seed the Cleveland Cavaliers. With Andrew Bynum rumoured to be fit my mid season and Cavs superstar Kyrie irving to start point guard, Cavs stand a very realistic chance of making the Playoffs.

Clark’s play would fit in perfectly for the Cavs. His excellent perimeter shooting and behind the arc would give Center Bynum and Anderson Varejeo ample space to work with in the paint.

His agility for a 6’10 big man makes an extremely good pick n roll defender who can be useful on switches to smaller guards of the opponents and not let them blow by him.

This defense would be another positive that the Cavs new Head Coach Mike Brown would love about Clark. Brown’s teams have always been known for their defense and Clark would be the perfect guy Brown needs.

His ability to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket along with his impressive passing skills for a big man definitely are crucial points of his game overshadowed by his rebounding and perimeter shooting.

With a 7’2 wingspan Clark has tremendous height for SF. His height could be used to make him play a stretch 4 when the Guard driven Cavs decide to put three guards on the floor since he also shoots a respectable 38% beyond the arc.

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Having a close look at the Cleveland roster you sense that there is a positional need for him at Small Forward with nobody else having his talent and versatility to play at that position.

With these qualities, understanding his contribution and importance to the Cavs roster and his position in the starting lineup, the Cavs are offering him a chance to better the standard of his game like he never received before.

Would he make the most of it?

We’ll find out when the Cavs would be the first to welcome the star-studded Brooklyn Nets!

Published 01 Oct 2013, 22:00 IST
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