Who are you, Earl Clark?
Lakers fans like me really want to know.
The Los Angeles Lakers acquired the 24-year-old, 6'10" Earl Clark in the Dwight Howard trade along with reserve guard Chris Duhon. As I have previously written, the Lakers will get some value out of Duhon.
But Earl Clark? He could either be the worst forward in the NBA or a decent contributor off the bench. Only time will tell.
Earl Clark Among the Worst Forwards in the NBA…
With data taken from Pro-Basketball-Reference.com, Earl Clark has been among the worst forwards in the NBA between 2010 and 2012 as measured by Player Efficiency Rating (PER):
Lowest PER Among Forwards - 2010-2012 (Min 1,400 Minutes Played)
1. Chris Singleton - 8.3
2. Earl Clark - 8.9
3. Juwan Howard - 9.1
4. Solomon Jones - 9.2
5. Wesley Johnson - 9.3
When compared to his peers at the forward position, Earl Clark has been one of the statistically worst players in the league over the last three years.
Throughout his career Earl Clark has averaged 10.2 minutes, 3.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game. He is a poor shooter averaging just 39% from the field and 66% from the free throw line.
…But Earl Clark Has Potential
But it's not all bad with Earl Clark.
In the 2012 playoffs the Orlando Magic lost 4-1 to the Indiana Pacers in the first round. In that series Earl Clark played 17 minutes per game and was very effective down low, averaging 6.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks.
In Game 1 against the Pacers he played 19 minutes and delivered six points, nine rebounds, and four blocks, playing a key role in the Magic's only win in the series.
Earl Clark's solid postseason play was not a total surprise. Leading up to last year's playoffs there were other good games.
On April 16th against the Philadelphia 76ers Earl Clark scored 14 points (7-14 FG), grabbed 11 rebounds, and blocked two shots. In the Magic's final regular season game, Clark delivered eight points, nine rebounds, and four blocks.
Can the Lakers Tap His Potential?
Earl Clark's solid end-of-season play in 2012 is promising. If any team can tap his potential it is Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and the Lakers.
If Earl Clark continues playing like one of the NBA's worst forwards, his spot on the bench will be permanent.
Yet if Earl Clark plays as effectively as he did at the end of 2012, perhaps he can play a small role in the Lakers' success.
Only time will tell which Earl Clark shows up in the purple and gold.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Lakers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check these out articles: