Hometown: Plainfield, N.J.
Birthday: Jan. 17, 1988
Experience: 1 year
Draft: 2009, 14th overall by Phoenix
2010-11 Salary: $1,898,760
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Consult our advanced stats page for a glossary and discussion of the preceding metrics.
2010-11 Season Outlook: When Earl Clark was drafted with the 14th and final lottery selection of the 2009 NBA Draft, he appeared to be the Swiss Army Knife defender the Suns had been missing since Shawn Marion himself, a guy who could guard both point guards and power forwards while mixing in a versatile offensive game to boot. He may still possess those skills, but it was hard to know for sure last season thanks to all the time he spent riding the bench.
Only Oklahoma City’s B.J. Mullens played less last season among first-round picks, as Clark essentially took a redshirt year and watched the Suns play their way to the Western Conference Finals. At the end of the season Alvin Gentry proclaimed Clark would be a rotation player next year, but then he showed up to summer league a bit out of shape and failed to show any measures of progress, looking like the same player who clanked jumper after jumper as a rookie.
Clark enters the season 22 years of age, so he still has time to become the player the Suns thought they drafted, but it might be difficult to make strides in that direction this year because he figures to be the 11th guy in a 10-man rotation after all of Phoenix’s offseason acquisitions. If Clark becomes the kind of versatile defender the Suns have lacked the last few years then minutes will materialize, but the Suns are deep enough to keep him on the pine for another season.
Biography: Growing up, Earl Clark was a guard who idolized Allen Iverson and spent the bulk of his time honing his guard skills. Then he experienced a six-inch growth spurt and grew to be 6-foot-6 in his freshman year of high school, making him one of the taller players on the floor while maintaining his guard skills. Clark used those abilities as a standout high school player, averaging 25.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game as a senior at Rahway High School in New Jersey to earn McDonald’s All-American honors.
Clark then brought his versatile game to Louisville, where he averaged 14.2 points and 8.7 boards on a stacked Cardinals team that earned the No. 1 overall seed in the 2009 NCAA Tournament before falling to Michigan State in the Elite Eight. Clark was a third-team All-Big East performer as a junior that year.
Clark showed enough at Louisville and in workouts for the Suns to tab him with the 14th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Clark, however, averaged just 2.7 points and 1.2 boards in 7.5 minutes per game as a rookie out of Phoenix’s regular playing rotation.
Clark has often been dogged for his calm, emotionless demeanor on the court. The game came so easy to him at lower levels that he often seemed to be giving less than maximum effort on the floor. Only time will tell if his package of skills will allow him to become a quality NBA player.
Links to ValleyoftheSuns coverage of Clark: