The Golden State Warriors have won the inaugural Las Vegas Summer League championship, defeating the Phoenix Suns by a score of 91-77. In the win, undrafted rookie Ian Clark dominated the opposition, leading all scorers with 33 points.
More importantly, Clark proved that he has NBA value.
Clark was spectacular, finishing with 33 points, two rebounds, two assists and a steal in 28 minutes of action. He shot 12-of-19 from the field, 7-of-10 from three-point range and took over during the fourth quarter, extending a four-point lead into a double-digit victory.
That's the power of the three.
An incredible performance that may also be a sign of things to come.
This isn't to suggest that Clark will step into the NBA ranks and score 30 points per game, but the raw ability is undeniable. Not only can he score, but Clark is one of the best pure shooters in the world at a time in which the deep shot is as valuable as it ever has been in NBA history.
The truth of the matter is, we should've seen this coming.
Summer League Success
During the 2013 Orlando Summer League, Clark was a member of the Miami Heat. He finished with a ranking of sixth in scoring, averaging 16.4 points on 48.4 percent shooting from the field.
Paired with a steady stroke from three-point range, Clark managed to be named to the Orlando All-Summer League Second Team.
Clark struggled to get minutes early in Las Vegas, but when he played, it was all about the three-ball. He shot 48.4 percent from three-point range, spaced the floor off of the catch and attacked off of the dribble with relative ease.
No matter what he was doing, Clark was efficient.
It took until the Las Vegas Summer League championship game for him to break out, but throughout the seasonal competition, he was consistent. Whether he was tasked with hitting the three or playing high-quality defense, he did it all.
Plain and simple, we should've seen it coming.
We Shouldn't Be Surprised
Clark is a 22-year-old scoring guard that played all four years with the Belmont Bruins. In that time, he was a three-time All-Conference selection and made second team All-Conference honors during his freshman season.
If there's one thing that translates for a perimeter player, it's a consistent approach.
Clark has never been one to get carried away with his shot selection, but is instead a scorer that picks his spots. That was quite evident during the 2012-13 college basketball season, when Clark shared OVC Co-Player of the Year honors with fellow rookie Isaiah Canaan.
Clark averaged 18.2 points on a slash line of .543/.459/.833.
Those numbers aren't just impressive, but they're flat out obscene. For a player that posted a usage rate of 24.6 percent, it's downright improbable that he would finish with shooting marks that high.
Well, he did—and now Clark's picking up where he left off.
In today's NBA, arguably the most valuable breed of role player is the "three-and-D" player. For those unfamiliar, these players are defined by their ability to consistently shoot the three-ball and also lock down their man defensively.
Enter Clark into the next wave of players to fit that bill.
Not only was Clark the OVC Co-Player of the Year, but he was the OVC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. With active hands and the quickness to close out on perimeter shooters, Clark is able to make a difference on the defensive end of the floor.
Paired with an elite shooting stroke, Clark has every tool necessary to become a regular rotational player in the NBA.
Players such as Shane Battier, Danny Green and Wesley Matthews skyrocketing in value, the time is now for Clark to break into the NBA. While his size, 6'3", could be an issue, if he's unable to transition into becoming a backup point guard, players such as Gary Neal have proved that undersized scoring guards have a place.
The fact that Clark can lock his man down is simply an additional bonus.
I wrote in March that Clark is the type of player that can take over a game with his efficient brand of basketball. What I wasn't sure of, however, is whether or not he could carve out a role with an NBA franchise during his first year out of college.
Clark's dominant summer league performance put those doubts to rest.