16. February 2011 09:15
Eddy Rivera writes about the Orlando Magic for the Truehoop blog Magic Basketball and can be followed on twitter here.
As the Orlando Magic continue their up-and-down season, especially after two blockbuster trades on December 18 that brought aboard well-known players like Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu, another player acquired in the deals is slowly making a name for himself. His name?
Long compared to Lamar Odom because of his ability to handle the basketball with proficiency as a 6-foot-10 power forward with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Clark didn't find too much success -- or playing time -- when he was with the Phoenix Suns for a season and a half. However, after getting traded to the Magic, Clark has gotten opportunities to make an impact when he's on the floor.
Part of it is because Orlando is lacking for big men at the moment. Part of it is because Brandon Bass, the Magic's starting power forward, sprained his right ankle on January 31 against the Memphis Grizzlies and sat out six games, thus allowing Clark a chance to get consistent minutes in head coach Stan Van Gundy's rotation. But most of it is because Clark has been one of the few players for Orlando to put in the energy and effort on defense -- something that Van Gundy demands from everyone on the roster. Because of Clark's willingness to work hard defensively, Van Gundy has rewarded him for it. Still, even though Clark has been able to improve on the defensive side of the ball and rebound at a better clip after gaining 10 points of muscle since arriving to the Magic, there's a lot of refinement that's needed from him on offense.
The good news is that Clark is showing signs of improvement already.
For starters, Clark's at rim percentage has leaped from 45.5 percent on 0.6 shot attempts per game with Phoenix to 75.0 percent on 2.1 shot attempts per game with Orlando this season (league average is 64.1 percent). It remains to be seen if Clark can keep that percentage up but if he can, that'll go a long way into him becoming a more efficient player offensively. Considering that a plethora of NBA players of all varying positions sit around that percentage, the odds for sustainability from Clark are good. That added muscle has helped Clark in that regard.
If there's a specific area where Clark still needs to improve on offense, it's his ability to hit shots from 16-23 feet. Right now, Clark's percentage sits at 33.0 percent on 1.8 shot attempts per game (league average is 39.4). When watching Clark shoot the basketball, the form on his jumpshot is fine. The consistency isn't there yet, though, which is something Clark will need to work on in the offseason if he wants to be a more dynamic threat offensively. Clark extending his range to three-point territory isn't out of the question, but progress needs to be taken one step at a time.
Although Clark's True Shooting percentage in the last five games is 52.1 percent, which is below the league average, the elements are there for improvement in the long-term. For the Magic, that much is encouraging.