Earl Clark was part of the Dwight Howard trade on Thursday night, and he has been regarded as mainly a throwaway by those grading the trade. However, the 14th overall pick from the 2009 NBA draft will provide much more than that off the bench.
He could also develop into a starter. Right now, the Lakers starting lineup has Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash as the primary scoring threats. It makes it tough for a small forward to get a lot of open shots, and will lead to less pressure from the position to perform.
As a Potential Starter
While Earl Clark isn't exactly known as the best player in the world at his position, he lucked out to be traded to the Lakers, as they don't have someone with Hedo Turkoglu's salary on the depth chart in front of him.
Coming out of college, NBADraft.net had him listed as a Boris Diaw or Marvin Williams clone. His best asset is his length and ability to play both small and power forward. However, he would have to earn his role as the three in the lineup for the Lakers.
This would also give the Lakers a huge front court with three members at 6'10" or taller. They would be able to match up defensively with almost anyone. If Clark earns the starting spot, it will be because he learned how to be a better defender than Ron Artest, err....Metta World Peace.
As a Bench Role Player
While he may not initially be a starter, he will at the very least be a great bench compliment to Jordan Hill and Steve Blake. He earned the right to be a lottery pick for his potential, and while he hasn't completely lived up to it, he still is able to compete for a starting role.
He can play both small and power forward off the bench, and should be able to see more minutes in LA than he ever saw in Orlando. His career 10.2 minutes per game average should be rising to around 15.0 minutes per game, as he will be able to spell both Pau Gasol and World Peace.
This alone makes him more than just a throwaway in the trade. He also has a very team friendly contract that will make it easier for him to stick with the team long term. Who knows, maybe he actually does get the starting spot.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist and Trends and Traffic Writer for Bleacher Report. As a Featured Columnist, he covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.