Memphis Grizzlies: Brandon Clarke is flying under the radar

NBA Memphis Grizzlies Brandon Clarke (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
NBA Memphis Grizzlies Brandon Clarke (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Brandon Clarke is the “other” rookie on the Memphis Grizzlies that is having a solid rookie season; he’s flying under the radar but has a bright future

The Canadian presence in the NBA the strongest it has ever been, with 16 players in the league from above the border. The latest addition to this list comes from Brandon Clarke, the 23-year-old power forward from Vancouver who has been making a name for himself on the young and exciting Memphis Grizzlies.

Most of the time, a rookie putting up 12.3 points per game while shooting 62.7 percent from the field would have all eyes on him wherever this team played. But Clarke is only one aspect of the rookie dynamic producing on the Grizzlies.

It’s hard to overlook the masterful start to the season that Clarke’s teammate Ja Morant has had. Morant has already separated himself from the pack both on the stat lines and the highlight reels, becoming the early front-runner for receiving 2020 Rookie of the Year award.

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The rookie giving the Grizzlies the offense they needed, averaging 18 points per game while tacking on 6.9 assists per contest. Morant’s explosive play-style has put the league on notice; interior defenders especially.

Morant and Clarke together provide a bright future for the Grizzlies faithful. The pair have already begun to exceed expectations and have the potential to have an incredibly high ceiling in the NBA. However, with Morant’s breakout, Clarke has been somewhat overshadowed this season despite his immense contributions to the team.

Clarke has been producing efficiently in his bench role this season, still receiving 22 minutes of floor time per game and making the most of it. Clarke’s relief of the Grizzlies starting forward Jaren Jackson Jr. has been crucial, bolstering aspects of the game where the Jackson Jr. struggles.

Let’s start with rebounding; the unsung statistic in the NBA. Clarke uses his undersized 6-foot-8 frame well, using his quickness to keep possessions alive on the glass and putting up 5.9 rebounds per game. Despite Jackson Jr.’s greater height and minutes share, he only accounts for just 4.9 rebounds per contest. When considering the rebounding numbers “per 36 minutes”, the separation becomes even greater with Clarke projecting 9.9 rebounds while Jackson Jr. sits at just 6.2 rebounds.

Aside from the glass, what really stands out in Clarke’s game is the efficiency and shot-taking IQ he possesses. Even with such little experience in the league, his 62.7 percent shooting from the field is good enough for seventh in the league. To make things even more impressive, he is the highest-ranking “true” power forward on this list.

Clarke has embodied the new wave of quicker, more agile big men in the NBA who can extend the floor and get up his shot wherever needed. While staying fairly conservative with his attempts so far this season, he shot a very respectable 40 percent from beyond the arc. Even with this high percentage, it’s on the interior where Clarke puts in most of his work.

Better save some room on that highlight reel, Ja.

As Clarke gains experience in this league, he has the potential to continue to develop into a top power forward in the league. Joining Morant, Jackson and the array of young players in their team’s system, the Grizzles make up the third-youngest team in the league with an average age of 24.6.

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Currently holding the final spot in the Western Conference, the Memphis Grizzlies have won six out of their last seven games. They are on the upswing.