Photo – USA Today Sports
Great piece here from SB Nation’s Los Angeles Lakers blog (Silver Screen and Roll) about the unbelievable impact of Earl Clark over the last few weeks. Essentially, Clark, a complete throw-in to the Dwight Howard trade, has benefited from an injured Laker frontline that has allowed him to get invaluable playing time. Not only was the team wallowing in mediocrity with Clark on the bench (right around a .500 record on the season), they had zero athleticism and lacked guys with youth and energy that can score the ball, defend and rebound. After a season-ending injury to Jordan Hill, Clark got his chance and he hasn’t looked back since. Again, outstanding work from Silver Screen and Roll as they not only talk about why and how Clark has been effective, but they show you specific examples in an Luke Winn-on-steroids kinda way. Here’s a quick snippet, but I encourage you to click on the link above to check out the entire article.
He plays with energy and is an active rebounder on both ends
Since Earl Clark began gaining minutes in these last five games (20 or more in each contest, along with three starts) he has logged at least 9 rebounds in each game. He’s averaging 10 rebounds a game in this stretch, and has at least 2 offensive rebounds every outing. His total rebounding percentage in this window is 19.62%, which would make him the most effective rebounder on the team (Jordan Hill is now out for the season but had a 19.8%, and Dwight Howard currently leads with 19%. Behind Dwight is Pau Gasol with 13.4%). This is a very small sample size however, but it remains a trend to keep an eye on. Let’s take a look at Earl grabbing boards on both ends.
Earl Clark is playing power forward here and is matched up with Serge Ibaka. Metta World Peace has an empty lane to drive through and makes the move, causing Kendrick Perkins and Ibaka to both rotate.
With the defense collapsing on him, MWP still decides to go for the layup. Earl Clark stays engaged in the play and doesn’t sit back as a bystander of the moment. With Ibaka’s back turned, he’s going to sneak into the paint and grab the offensive rebound.
EARL SMASH! He grabs an easy offensive board and gets the putback dunk to top it off. Staying active in a play leads to great things, and similar to Jordan Hill, Clark’s motor seems to always be running. This is great for the Lakers who desperately needed another one of those guys before they lost their one player who was already there (Hill).
He doesn’t just take advantage of out of position defenders, though, he fights for position and rebounds.
* On a side note: Why wasn’t I invited to this?