Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Earl Clark fills a major hole for a Cavaliers team on the rise.
Yes, Earl Clark was the center of some debate when he was starting over Pau Gasol for much of the 2012-2013 season. But once you get past that, Clark was very effective in the playing time he was given.
First off, he's listed at 6'10" with a 7'2" wingspan. So though he may be more comfortable playing the three, he can guard fours thanks to his size and length. In other words, the guy is versatile.
And he's got a 33" max vert. So though he's no Vince Carter, he's an athletic player to be sure.
But onto how he played. Because as we all know, just because a player has the physical tools doesn't mean he's going to be any good. Enter Kwame Brown.
In Earl Clark's 23.1 minutes per game, he averaged 7.3 points, and 5.5 rebounds on 44 percent shooting. So from the surface, nothing too special.
Delving a little deeper is where it gets interesting. When playing power forward, he ranked 19th out of 70 in assist rate. He was also a respectable shooter, with a 50.6 effective field goal percentage on threes.
As an aside, effective field goal percentage (or eFG%) is a statistic that measures a player's shooting efficiency while weighting threes a bit more for their added point value.
So he's a big small forward who can play the four when need be. He's a pretty decent shooter who can also pass pretty well when he plays power forward.
But exactly how he fits on the Cavaliers team is the important part. He signed a two year, $9 million deal this offseason.
The Cavaliers will be a guard driven team next year, with Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Jarret Jack being the focal points. They'll hope that Varejao and newly signed Andrew Bynum can stay healthy, and they'll integrate top pick Anthony Bennett into the front court rotation along with a much improved Tristan Thompson.
Earl Clark is the only player on the roster who's main position is small forward. So there's a positional need for him.
But more than that, he fits on the team. He can be a stretch four when needed, and they might really need him if they're going to rely on guys like Bynum and Varejao to stay healthy.
Clark can rebound, pass a little bit and shot 38% on corner threes. So he can hang out over there or in the short corner to space the floor while Bynum or Thompson roam the paint.
Think of it this way. If the Cavs opt to go three guards, then Clark can play the stretch four position with a small forward's skills. He gives the Cavaliers versatility, and the ability to exploit mismatches.
The only reason he isn't higher is that he plays for the Cavs. Who aren't supposed to be anything more than a young up-and-coming team next year. If he filled this role for a title contender he would be higher, but alas. Maybe in a couple years, but for now, he's just five on this list.