After being eliminated in a play-in game versus the Portland Trail Blazers, the Memphis Grizzlies’ offseason is officially underway. Grizzlies fans have to be pleased with how the team performed in head coach, Taylor Jenkins’ first season at the helm.
Jenkins was one of many bright spots on this young Grizzlies team. Rookie Ja Morant lived up to his billing as the “point-god ”while his fellow 2019 Draft classmate, Brandon Clarke, had a quietly impressive season himself. With Morant having all but locked up the Rookie of the Year title, it was Clarke who was one of the most reliable offensive weapons coming off of a solid Memphis bench.
Having had to play alongside Morant, Clarke flew under the radar in many NBA circles. But the 21st overall pick in the 2019 Draft had an outstanding season, all things considered. The power forward out of Gonzaga finished the season averaging 12.1 PPG along with 5.9 RPG.
Brandon Clarke showing why hes the biggest steal of the draft
— Hoops Reference (@HoopsReference) August 15, 2020
Clarke displayed blatant flashes of brilliance during his rookie campaign. Grizzlies fans could not help but to take note of the 23-year-old’s offensive abilities. The youngster dropped 27 points on two separate occasions in the 2019-2020 season.
Clarke etched his name in NBA history by breaking the rookie record for field goal percentage after shooting at a 61.8 percent clip in the abbreviated season. While his effectiveness inside 15 feet is advanced, it is his long-range game that will continue to demand respect as the years go on. Clarke connected on nearly 36 percent of his triples on the year, highlighted by drilling four-of-five in Memphis’ final game against Portland.
The previous record was held by Steve Johnson, who shot 61.3% for the Kansas City Kings in 1981-82.
— Grizzlies PR (@GrizzliesPR) August 15, 2020
Clarke’s offensive game will continue to improve after having the benefit of continuity in Jenkins’ system as well as improving chemistry with his teammates.
Rebounding is an area of Clarke’s game that most needs to develop over the course of the offseason. That’s not to say he is a liability on the boards, because he has demonstrated that he can be a double-double guy after putting up three such performances in his 59 games played. It is the consistent effort on the glass on a nightly basis that could evolve Clarke into becoming an All-Star caliber big man.
Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr are the two guys Grizzlies fans have to be excited about for hopefully the next decade, but it might be Clarke who has the highest ceiling of the trio. Unlike most Western Conference contenders, the Grizzlies have a plan for the future. They have budding superstars in place and are ready to contend now. While Morant and Jackson Jr. handle their business in the starting five, don’t be too surprised if and when Clarke brings home a Sixth Man of the Year award in the near future.
Featured image courtesy of Jerome Miron/ USA TODAY Sports