PHOENIX – When the Indiana Pacers were on the clock, members of the Suns’ front office were on the edge of their seats.
Then the Pacers selected UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough 13th overall, and you could here the cheers coming from the Suns’ draft room.
It is clear that from the second pre-draft workouts began, Earl Clark was the Suns’ guy. He has the potential to develop into an All-Star, he fills a need, and is a great fit for Gentry’s Run-n-Gun system.
Clark slipped past his projection and luckily for the Suns fell into the laps of Steve Kerr and Alvin Gentry. If Clark was to be selected before the Suns 14th pick, it was almost certain that the Suns would have moved the pick.
Steve Kerr said it himself during the post-pick press conference: “We entertained moving our pick for the last hour.”
He went on to say, “The one guy who we said we aren’t moving if we have (at 14) was Earl.”
Clearly, Earl Clark was the guy atop the Suns’ draft board from the start. The question was, would he fall past teams like the Nets, Bucks, and Bobcats?
As for the new Sun, head coach Alvin Gentry praised his versatility and defense.
“I like his defense, the fact that he plays a good post defense,” Gentry said. “He is a very active defender, he’s got very good hands. Obviously that’s an area we have to get better in.”
Kerr elaborated, “You’ve gotta have people with the size and mobility to stay with someone like that (Dirk Nowitzki), so that was probably the deciding thing about Earl for us.”
Clark brings the Suns defense, rebounding and scoring as well as being a player who can develop into a future piece of this franchise. Clark certainly will not come in right away and start, but as he refines his range and physical strength he will begin to get minutes.
“He’s not going to beat out Jared Dudley or Lou Amundson,” Kerr said. “If he is, he’s gonna be really good.”
Whether Clark breaks the rotation or not next year, the Suns got a gem with the 14th pick. Alvin Gentry compared his game to former Sun Clifford Robinson, without the shooting range.
During a conference call with reporters, Clark was asked what he thought about the Suns’ decision to take him with the 14th pick.
“I think it was a great choice,” he said. “You know, I love their style of play, I think it fits me best. I’m excited to get out there.
“I can run the floor in the open offense, a lot of people know I like to get in the open court.”
As for Clark’s take on Steve Kerr not envisioning him in the rotation right away: “I’m just gonna come in and play hard.”
Clark might not need to do too much to warrant playing time, as it seems that Amar’e Stoudemire is on his way to Golden State, making this draft pick that much better. Clark can play the three, the four, and even the five with his 6-10 frame and his 7-2 wingspan.
The Suns are clearly not done moving players this offseason, maybe not even today. Kerr said it himself: “I don’t look at this roster and say, ‘Hey we’re great, lets go home now.'”
Luckily for the Suns, they got their guy and are on their way to doing exactly what Suns fans feared they would in blowing up the roster.
Biedrins and Stephen Curry may very well be in Suns uniforms on July 1 when the free agency period begins, which would finally transition the Suns from the D’Antoni years to the Alvin Gentry Era.