Brandon Clarke was a very good college basketball player, and he is a good rookie in the NBA as well. According to Basketball Reference, Clarke led the NCAA in win shares. Somehow he fell to the 21st pick in the NBA draft, most likely because teams were overthinking during the draft.
Clarke was a bit on the older side for a prospect, but he was such a good player that he should not have slipped that far. The optics of drafting a 23-year old in the top five might’ve been strange, but certainly a late lottery team could have taken a flyer on him.
The draft process is a crapshoot, but an athletic player who can guard point guards, wings and power forwards holds great value.
Clarke is an ideal modern-day wing and is someone who can play well without the ball. It is early in their careers, but Clarke would thrive in Cam Reddish’s role playing off of Trae Young, to give an example. This is not a knock on Reddish, as he can still develop; however, the Hawks could use a defender of Clarke’s caliber.
Some teams miss and some players fall through the cracks; even Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard were drafted relatively low. This isn’t to say Clarke will reach that level, but Clarke is another example of how tough and volatile the draft process can be.
Brandon Clarke is also an example of how simple drafting can be. He was one of the best players in college basketball, and showed glimpses of his efficiency all over the floor. Yes, he is 23-years old, but he is a valuable basketball player and demonstrated that throughout his college career. As simple as it sounds, sometimes teams just have to take the guys who are great at the game of basketball and figure out the rest later.
For now, Clarke is part of an exciting and athletic young core in Memphis alongside Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.
While it may sound obvious now, the Grizzlies always knew they were drafting a great basketball player.