As the 2013-2014 NBA Season finally approaches, it’s as good as time as ever to take at look at each player on the Cleveland Cavaliers roster. Up until opening night, the entire RDE staff will breakdown the entire Cavaliers roster. This profile looks at Earl Clark.
Tale of the Tape:
Name: Earl Clark
Position: Small Forward/Power Forward
Years Experience: 4 Years
Years with Cavaliers: None
Contract: Two years, nine-million dollars
Earl in the offseason, it appeared as if Earl Clark would be the key signing of the Cavaliers offseason. But after the acquisitions of Jarrett Jack and Andrew Bynum, Clark became a forgotten man. Still, he’s going to be a key piece as the Cavaliers attempt to make the playoffs since returning coach Mike Brown in the 2009-2010 season. A productive season from Clark at small forward could be essential come the stretch run.
If he is going to play the three some – if not all – of the time, Clark’s height is going to give the Cavaliers some interesting lineup possibilities. He’s not only taller then two of the Cavaliers Canadian power forwards (Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett) he’s taller than most small forwards out there as well. He also has a wingspan above seven feet long, which makes him an interesting defensive option on the wing. However, at 225 pounds, he’s not the strongest (he only benched 225 pounds five times at his combine workout) which also makes him susceptible to small forwards who can play down low like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony.
Clark, while not a great shooter, has solid balance is his jump shot. He also does a decent job of cutting threw the paint when the opportunity presents itself and he’s not horrible at initiating fastbreaks. At times with the Lakers last season, Clark showed good decision making when he’d catch the ball on the wing, either driving and spotting up for the three pointer. On defense, he hustles and shows willingness to mix it up with whomever he defends.
In his highest number of minutes per game last season, Clark was an effective offensive player. His e7.3 points per game average was low by league standards, it was a 3.6 point increase from his previous career high. When you look at his per 36 numbers he’s even better, as he averaged 11.3 points per game. His per 36 shooting percentage was also the highest of his career at 44 percent from the field, which breaks down to 47.9 percent from two-point range and 33.7 percent from three. On the offensive glass, he’s okay (2.2 offensive rebounds per 36) but he won’t be counted on to fill that role considering that Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao and Andrew Bynum are on the roster. So, while he’s not a major offensive threat, he could be a situational scorer who spots up in the corner and cuts to the basket on the fast break.
This is where Clark could make his biggest impact on the Cavaliers roster. With so many offense weapons ahead of him, there won’t be any set pieces for the former Laker. On defense, it’ll often be his duty to shut down the opposing teams best scorer. There could also be situations against teams like Oklahoma City, Miami or New York where Clark plays power forward and defend a small ball line up. Per 36 minutes last season, Clark averaged 1 steal a game – his career high – and pulled down 6.4 defensive rebounds per 36. Similar numbers would benefit a Cavaliers team that greatly needs to improve on defense if that want to contend to make a push. In many ways, Clark’s defense and rebounding are one of the X-Factors for the Cavaliers this season.
How does Clark fit in on the Cavaliers?
While he’s been largely inconsistent so far in the Wine & Gold, Clark has a strong chance to be the Cavaliers starting small forward and be a key player for the Cavaliers this year. If he can provide defense, rebounding and the occasional bucket, Clark is going to fit in nicely on this team. He’s not too expensive and can play the three or the four. Granted, he’ll be playing much more three in Cleveland but there is the option. I’m expecting to be serviceable and do more good than bad for the Cavaliers this season. And there’s nothing wrong with that.