Ball Don't Lie - NBA

With the NBA Draft just a few days away, Ball Don't Lie has decided to weigh in with its own 2009 Mock Draft, just for shots and giggles. But since we know so little about college basketball, we called in SB Nation's team experts (and a few others) to throw their darts at the board. Let's see what sticks ...

With the 14th pick in the 2009 Ball Don't Lie NBA Mock Draft, the Phoenix Suns select ...

Earl Clark: SF/PF, Louisville, Junior

Bright Side of the Sun:

"Would the Phoenix Suns draft defensive big men over flashy scorers two years in a row? I have no idea what Steve Kerr and David Griffin will do but in my mock world that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

With Earl Clark the Suns get an extremely athletic player who is able and willing to defend multiple positions. He’s been compared to Lamar Odom(notes) for his passing and ball handling skills but for the Suns his role is to fill the gaping hole left by Shawn Marion(notes) on the defensive end.

Clark has a longer wingspan and higher max reach then Blake Griffin but he also has the foot speed and agility to switch screens and cover guards. In his recent workout in Phoenix, he used his length and speed to get in front of Brandon Jennings and stop the little speedster’s penetration and he defended the larger James Johnson in the post. The Suns desperately need that kind of mobility from a forward and just like Shawn played the four in Phoenix (at 6'7") Clark could do the same in this system but with more size (6'10").

Clark’s offensive game will likely take a few years to develop but that’s ok. He has solid foundational skills inside and out and he has enough range on his jump shot to spread the floor in Phoenix and not be a complete offensive liability even in his rookie year. There's no question he can run and finish in transition. Perhaps after a few seasons he can even be a reliable enough threat from the three-point line which would allow him to start at the small forward once Grant Hill(notes) calls it quits.

The rap on Clark is his intensity and desire. He’s been compared negatively to Odom as a guy that takes games off and has gotten by on being the best athlete on the floor. That won’t get him very far in the NBA. The lack of a killer instinct is my biggest reservation about Clark and why I considered James Johnson or Ty Lawson who are both more natural leaders at 14.

In a league that is trending towards mobile bigs that can shoot, Clark is a guy that can come in right away and be effective against the likes of Gasol, Aldridge or even Durant. With three years experience playing for Rick Pitino, Earl arrives in Phoenix with more defensive skills then Amar'e has after seven years in the league.

That kind of defensive versatility is sorely lacking in the Valley of the Sun and we all know what wins championships.


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