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Regular Season Stats Per Game: 10.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 blocks, 64.4/22.7/65.4 shooting splits
Postseason Stats Per Game: 15.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.1 blocks, 69.7/00.0/67.4 shooting splits
Clarke has been a good big man off the bench for the past three years in Memphis, and now he has shined during his increased minutes this postseason.
If a Sixth Man Award was given out during the playoffs, Clarke would be the frontrunner right now.
Among players who have come off the bench five times or more this postseason, the 25-year-old ranks first in rebounds per game, second in scoring, sixth in blocks and eighth in assists, making his impact across a variety of areas. His true shooting percentage of 71.2 ranks fourth among all postseason players, starters and reserves.
As a roll man, Clarke is generating 1.43 points per possessions on 80.0 percent shooting, better numbers than players like Joel Embiid, Bam Adebayo, Rudy Gobert and even teammate Jaren Jackson Jr. He does a terrific job of staying within Ja Morant’s line of sight, timing his cuts to the basket, which often result in an emphatic slam.
While his numbers have jumped, this seems to be more of a result of increased playing time as Memphis has gone smaller and quicker by using Steven Adams in limited minutes.
Clarke’s per-36 numbers are remarkably similar between regular season (19.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.0 blocks) and postseason (18.5 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 blocks), so increased opportunity has assisted his playoff breakout more than anything.
Likely too small to be a regular starting center at 6’8″ and 215 pounds and not enough of a three-point shooter to be a starting power forward for most teams, Clarke is probably in his ideal role as a high-minute sixth man, one who pairs well next to Jackson.
It’s great that he’s received more of an opportunity, especially with a larger audience watching, but his breakout has been primarily because of an increase in playing time.
Buy or Sell: Sell Clarke becoming a “star,” buy him continuing to get more minutes moving forward.