Wednesday night against San Antonio, with the top 3 players in the Lakers frontcourt all out with injuries, the Lakers did not have a lot of options of where to turn to. The injuries left a lot of heavy lifting for Robert Sacre who came straight from the NBA D League showcase in Reno to the starting center, Metta World Peace and his now permanent move to the 4 spot, and Antawn Jamison who barely had seen the floor in recent weeks.
If anyone told you they were excited about Earl Clark becoming a Laker in the offseason they were either lying or, well, they were me. Earl Clark was purely an afterthought and supposed to only give a short breather for the others on Wednesday. But he proved on Wednesday in the second half of a back to back in San Antonio why he needs to be a part of the rotation, and could be the player the Lakers trade rumors desired.
Clark came out of Louisville after his Junior year with Rick Pitino’s program as an athletic big man who was comfortable on the perimeter on either end of the floor. He helped take Louisville to the Final 4 his final year. ESPNs Chad Ford had him ranked 11 in the NBA draft because
He can shoot, rebound, block shots, handle the ball, pass and run the floor. When he puts all of that together, he can look like a potential superstar.
In an effort to get very carried away in this one stellar game, Clark is a poor man’s Dirk Nowitzki. He is most comfortable as a face up jump shooter. He doesn’t create his own shot as well, or as impossible to defend, but he has great skills both close to and away from the basket. So a little too carried away. So his game is more like a poor man’s Lamarcus Aldridge. Because of his potential Clark was drafted 14th overall by the Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers roster is completely revamped from last year save Kobe, Pau, and Metta. But with Lakers struggles, and their tract record of recent changes, they are unlikely to stand pat at the trade deadline.
They have been rumored to be interested Tyreke Evans most recently, and Andrea Bargnani and Ryan Anderson earlier this season. But Earl Clark, acquired via trade from Orlando with Dwight Howard, could step up and be the players desired via trade.
He can step out and spread the floor from the floor because he is a face up shooter from mid-range and from 3. He does not shoot a high percentage historically, but he’s always had potential to. He was 9-12 on Wednesday. And if he rebounds well like he did Wednesday, the Lakers should pair him with Dwight Howard when he returns to give him more room to operate inside. Then Pau can play the bulk of his minutes with the second unit at the 5, and Metta spreading the floor at the 4. Clark could do what Anderson or Bargnani would have done, but not cost the Lakers anything more.
It’s only 1 game, and it’s one loss no less. But the Lakers near victory over San Antonio facing injuries and a now 5 game losing streak could forge a desperately needed contributor.