College, NBA Draft / Mar 30, 2009 / 11:06 am

The 2nd Best Pro Prospect In This Draft

Louisville's Earl Clark

Louisville's Earl Clark

Blake Griffin is both the No. 1 pick and the best future pro in this draft class. He’s like a 6-10 version of Charles Barkley with stupid athleticism, a great motor, and legitimate ball skills. And Griffin is really 6-10 – there won’t be a Michael Beasley height crisis with him come draft time. He’s got the top spot locked up.

So who’s number two?

Right now, most draft boards have UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet, Arizona’s Jordan Hill, or Arizona State’s James Harden in the two-hole. They then fill out the rest of the top five with the other two and some combination of Brandon Jennings, Duke’s Gerald Henderson and USC’s DeMar DeRozan. You don’t see Louisville’s Earl Clark until 7th on one site, and as late as 13th on another. If GM’s actually see the real draft board taking this general shape, they’re sorely mistaken.

Clark’s game is built for the League. At 6-9, he’s got a two-guard’s first step. With the exception of one game against UConn’s Stanley Robinson during Big East play, I haven’t seen Clark struggle to get into the lane off of a quick burst against anyone this year. It didn’t matter who Michigan State put in front of him yesterday, Clark was able to get into the second-layer of the D. That’s where I think Clark separates himself from the pack. He doesn’t try to finish everything at the rim. Instead, he maintains picturesque shooting form and pulls between six and ten feet when the defense collapses. Aside from LeBron, who can finish over and through anyone in the universe, great scorers all look to get to spots on the floor where they know they can get a bucket. Paul Pierce and Kobe are the two best at this in today’s game – if they get within a step of the free throw line, just count it. Clark has the foundation for that type of game.

His quickness translates to both sides of the ball. At times during yesterday’s loss to Michigan State, Rick Pitino had him D-ing up in the backcourt as part of Louisville’s light two-man full-court pressure. He pestered Spartan PG Kalin Lucas on a couple of trips; and Big 10 POY Lucas could very well be the quickest guy with the rock in the nation. Clark might not have the upper body strength to guard a big three, but his quickness would allow him to stick with an NBA two-guard right now.

Everyone wants to say that this is the weakest draft class in recent memory – some say of all time. Maybe that’s why Clark is going to be the second best pro to come out of it. But he’d be a special player no matter the other guys in his class.

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  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    I concur. I like Earl Clark’s prospects as a pro better than most players but it will all come down to who has the second pick. They may need a point guard. Wing players are a dime a dozen right now. However, if Clark can play sg in the L then he may be an intriguing pick. A 6’9” sg can be dangerous.

  • http://www.ragingspaniard.com Xavier

    Thats assuming Rubio doesnt declare, and it looks like he might, according to the Spanish media.

    He needs to be a top 3 pick in order for him to buy out his clause with Juventut and this years draft offers the best chance for him to do so. Otherwise he wouldnt be able to make enough money.

  • http://www.layupdrill.com LayupDrill

    Rubio is probably heading out. Hasheem Thabeet a.k.a Greg Oden part 2 will be drafted high, but Earl Clark is a top 10 player.

  • Kobeef

    I’ve been watching Clark since last year’s tournament and agree 100%.

    Clark, like Griffin and Thabeet has that “who the hell is that!?” factor when you watch him in NCAA games. It’s like watching Derrick Rose in a streetball game – you immediately realize that one of these players in not like the others.

    One play in this tournament illustrated this to me: Against Arizona Clark grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back for 2 pts in one motion. What was remarkable was his speed and athleticism. He came from nowhere and grabbed the board above everyone’s head and put it back before anyone knew what was going on. He was simply in another league.

  • K.I.R

    Clark gonna be a bust- hes just a stronger austin daye. and that j is no where nearreiable.no BBAll IQ- from what Ive seen- 1 or 2 even 3 cant erase what would have to be cionsidered a down year from an individual stand point

    just KIR

  • TJ 2

    i think he will be a good pro also, but why is no one talking about Sam Young out of Pitt, from what i saw he led them in scoring alot of games and is extremely athletic and a little older and smarter than most players. does he have a bad attitude or something??

  • shake&bake

    I like Earl Clark, I also think that James Harden makes everything look so easy. He struggle in the tournament and was inconsistent at times this season, but when he’s on, I really like his game.

  • Raj S

    I don’t know about this one. Earl Clark has star potential, but he also has bust potential.
    Thabeet is 7’3. If he stays healthy, he is the modern version of Mutombo.

    Rubio is a shorter version of Ginobili, and he doesn’t jump when he shoots.

  • flavur

    Does anyone know if Dejuan Blair is going pro? And I agree that earl Clark is gonna be a good pro.

  • Raj S

    Sam Young is 24 years old. Earl Clark is three years younger than him.

  • Taj

    Ive been really impressed with Stanley Robinson, he had a couple highlight reel swats vs Mizzou and can be a first round pick. I think he needs to work on his jumper though. But every team in the NBA could use a lock down defender like him!

  • Taj

    I dig Sam Young as well.. Sometimes plays a lil outta control but hes a beast!!! Is he a Junior?

  • Celts Fan

    Young’s a senior and I’d take him over most wings in this draft. He’ll be a solid, albeit unspectacular player, for a long time.

    I was thinking the same thing about Clark too. Dude’s impressive.

  • Celts Fan

    *thinking the same thing meaning he could be the 2nd best prospect in the draft, not the “solid, but unspectacular” bit I said about Sam Young

  • Jayo

    I agree w/ post #5. Clark has a lotta tools, but is soft & doesn’t have a real good basketball IQ. He’s like a poor man’s Lamar Odom. He’ll be good, but will still be considered an underachiever

  • Taj

    Yeah Clark is nice… Hes like a right handed Lamar Odom without as good of a shot and the dimes! I hope he stays though improve his all around game.

  • K Dizzle

    Clark is gonna be a hit or miss.He’ll either be a stud or ‘didn’t live up to his potential’ pick. I’d rather take his teammate, Terrence Williams, tho. Just does more things and is a smarter ballplayer. Apart from that one bad game, T-Will was usually around 14, 8 and 6 with 2 steals. Dude looks like a more athletic Josh Howard

  • Celts Fan

    @K Dizzle – Josh Howard was ACC POY his senior year though. Williams always seems to have more talent than actual production to me…

  • K Dizzle

    @ Celts Fan – T Will was 1st team all-america this past season so he did alright. I just see him as more of a sure thing because like Howard(2 years ago), he can do more things on the court. With his year to year improvements, he looks like one of those players who gets helped by the pro game cuz his game looks better suited to it

  • http://www.edthesportsfan.com SoulOnIce

    I like Sam Young A LOT, but there were some things about that game I saw on Saturday that bugged me. He only goes right. If you can stay at home on his now World-Famous Sam Young Pump Fake (that may be one of the three best non-dribble moves I’ve ever seen in my life), then you’re good. He can shoot, but when he put the ball on the floor, Villanova’s defenders jumped on his right hand, and he was in trouble, because I don’t remember him going left AT ALL. Either way, I’d probably still draft him over Earl Clark.

    Terrence Williams is a monster; I love his game, and the hole he has (which, honestly, is only a reliable jumper) will improve in the league. His basketball IQ is pretty high (echoing K-Dizzle), and he can do damn near anything else on the court.

  • Chaos

    What will really make Earl a intriguing pick is if he comes into the L with a strong work ethic. he has all the physical tools and ability but his teammate Williams seems to be more of a sure pick. he reminds me of rudy gay who has everything he needs as physical tools but he hasnt yet really put it together because his effort isquestionable

  • Chaos

    Sam Young will be a better prospect

  • Jimbo

    I know we all love the cool black talk, but what the hell does “stupid athleticism” even mean? Seriously, is this journalism???

  • Jayo

    What’s the difference between Sam Young & Terrance Williams? I like Terrance a little more b/c I think he has a slightly better understanding of the game & he’s a little more athletic. But there both about 6′ 7″ wings who are lacking a consistent jumper. The NBA is full of hit or miss guys like that. Although I think Terrance can be kinda a point forward in the L.

  • http://www.edthesportsfan.com SoulOnIce

    Out of the three names that I’ve seen so far, I’d probably say:

    Terrence Williams > Sam Young > Earl Clark

    I’d take Williams over Young, due to Williams being able to do everything, and I’d take Young over Clark, because he seems to have way more of a killer instinct than Clark.

  • Bruce

    Treke Evans

  • http://dimemag.com Dime Magazine

    I think T-Will is a good player – he’s ridiculously athletic. But his offensive game isn’t anywhere near as mature as Clark’s.

    If anyone should shoulder the blame for Louisville’s loss to Michigan, it’s Williams. He was taking flat-footed three’s with someone on him during the second half instead of playing a team game.

    I honestly think Clark is a much better one-on-one player.

    Sam Young is a problem, but I have no idea how his game will translate to the League. Sure he can finish in transition with the best of ‘em, but I don’t think his game in the half court set isn’t quite as NBA-ready as Clark’s.

    – ak

  • JC

    6’9″ SG? anyone heard of a player named DerMarr Johnson? How’d that pan out??

  • http://dimemag.com Dime Magazine

    Haha JC DerMarr was 205 lbs. soaking wet when he came out. Clark is 225-235 easy. And I think the biggest issue with DerMarr wasn’t that he was a big guard. It was that he had no work ethic at all.

    -ak

  • doc

    I like Earl Clark and T-Will over Young.But I think Young a player.

  • Taj

    One thing I do know, Clark is gonna have to work on his Chin strap game! What he was rocking during the tourney was more like a neck strap! LOL!

  • vince

    clark to clippers, thornton to bench

    bd/taylor
    gordon/fred jones
    clark/thornton
    randolph/whoever
    camby/deandre

    yessir theres always next year

  • K Dizzle

    and kaman…

  • Bron42 aka Had Springs Before Slamball

    @JC, demarrs work ethic wasnt even his real issues, it was his near crippling car accident that did him in. he was never the same after that.

    Rubio isn’t going to do much. He did his thing against usa (and still lost) cuz it was a random game. In a 82 game season people will pick up on his game since they will actually see him and he doesn’t have the body to deal with most guards since hes thin and a average athlete.

    @jimbo, “cool black talk” really? i’m not even gonna waste my time crushin your soul about that one

    @dime, callin blake a 6’10 barkley is crazy. blake cant dribble or shoot at this point. So unless you only watched sir charles old sixers highlights of him dunkin off fast breaks their levels apart. Beasly was better than blake at this point. Blake is gonna be like carlos boozer was on the cavs or paul milsap, just more athletic. Bunch of garbage points off rebounds

  • hansosword

    Willie Warren is a pro. If he does well at camp, the sky’s the limit.

  • e

    i like clark as a big wing man all he needs to add is muscle and hell be fine tabhett needs work in the weight room we seen what dejuan blair did to him it will be a repeat of that every night in the league playing against way stronger and athletic bigs

  • ENEW

    Clark, Terrence Williams, and Blair are all pro’s who will hopefully land in the right siutations where they can succeed.

    Barkley couldn’t shoot when he came into the league in 1984, Griffin will be just fine…Griffin playing with Durant would be FUN to watch…

  • S

    I will guarantee that blake griffin will not measure out at 6’10, maybe 6’9 at most. But really his unbelievable athletisicm more than makes up for it. His potential is extremely high but the expectations of being the #1 pick might burden him for his career. Sam young is joey graham part 2, twill isn’t talented enough offensively to become a star. I do believe earl Clarks game translates well to the NBA, a la jeff green. One person to watch out for is demar derozan, he really started playing well towards the end of the season and his athletisicm and potential rivals that of Blake griffin.

  • Bron42 aka Had Springs Before Slamball

    demar has even more potential since hes a freak athlete as a 6’6 wing players. he just has no basketball IQ. Griffin, even if he is 6’10, still won’t be able to out muscle guys like he does in college. And yes barkley couldn’t shoot that well right off the bat but he was on a team with guys like Dr J who could mold him and could at least run a break. Blake can barely dribble and will be on a terrible lotto team.

  • 45%

    most likely blake will end up on a horrible lottery team & we will never hear from him again… until he gets traded.

    – i love harden’s game. but he seems like a system player not a guy who can go out and create.

    – clark seems legit to me. if he has the work ethic i see him becoming a rudy gay type player.