Jan 9, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Earl Clark (6) drives to the basket past San Antonio Spurs forward Tiago Splitter (22) during the second half at the AT
Normally lottery picks don’t have to wait three years until they make a splash in the NBA. Unless, of course, they’re named Hasheem Thabeet who was ironically picked second overall in the same draft Earl Clark was selected 14th overall by the Phoenix Suns.
Clark, a former McDonald’s All-American, entered the NBA out of Louisville without a true position or any significant skill set despite his athletic frame. During his first four years in the league Clark toiled on the benches of the Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic before signing a contract to play in China during the lockout only to never suit up for his new club.
This summer Clark took the Shannon Brown route to the Lakers by becoming a throw in as part of the Dwight Howard deal. After last night Clark could find himself walking a similar path as Brown did by becoming a regular in the rotation.
Clark had a career night in San Antonio going off for 22 points and 13 rebounds including a clutch triple that kept the Lakers within striking distance late in the contest.
Were it not for all the injuries to L.A.’s frontline Clark would still be buried at the end of the bench. Neither Mike Brown nor Mike D’Antoni was giving Clark any burn.
But credit where credit is due Clark took advantage of his found minutes by flashing the activity and athleticism this Lakers squad has so desperately needed. He also showed good range on his shot mixed in with a solid presence on the boards.
Going forward it remains to be seen if Clark can keep producing with consistency. His playing time will obviously be affected by his performance but also by the number of healthy big men the Lakers get back in the coming weeks. However what we witnessed was certainly a welcome sight for a bench that is once again languishing near the bottom of the league.