While the Los Angeles Lakers continue to struggle, there is a bright side to their dismal 24-28 season.
The emergence of Earl Clark.
The 6'10" Clark is listed as a small forward but has been utilized as a power forward in Mike D'Antoni's offensive system, as Michael Jones of Sports Out West writes: "Clark has looked like the next NBA player to make a name for himself simply by being given an opportunity since then."
At first glance, Clark's 7.8 ppg and 6.2 rpg don't look impressive, but it's about what he's evolved into the past six weeks.
For instance, Clark averaged 10.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game during the month of January, and continued to elevate his play into February, where he's averaging 13.2 ppg and 9.8 rpg.
In his latest performance against the Miami Heat on Sunday, Clark scored 18 points—the second-most for LA next to Kobe Bryant's 28—and grabbed nine boards, which was tied with Dwight Howard for the team lead.
And speaking of Kobe, it looks like he already has his chemistry down with Clark:
Not coincidentally is the fact that L.A. has won seven of its last 10 since Jan. 25, right around the time when Clark's play began to elevate.
What's been the bigger surprise this season?
What's even more impressive about Clark is his efficiency.
He's shooting nearly 50 percent from the field, 43 percent from downtown and is the third-leading rebounder on the Lakers.
Injuries to Howard and Pau Gasol have allowed Clark to put his talent on display, but it has to make you wonder what L.A. could look like with a completely healthy roster and Clark playing at a high level.
With so many personnel questions hanging around the Lakers—including the futures of Howard and Gasol in L.A.—the Lakers don't have as much to panic about for next season with the emergence of Earl Clark as a legitimate contributor to Los Angeles' offense.
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