Brandon Clarke's 2019 NBA Draft Scouting Report: Analysis of Grizzlies Pick

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJune 21, 2019

Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke celebrates after scoring against Florida State during the second half an NCAA men's college basketball tournament West Region semifinal Thursday, March 28, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The Memphis Grizzlies have selected Brandon Clarke with the 21st pick in the 2019 NBA draft. Memphis acquired the selection Thursday from Oklahoma City in exchange for this year's 23rd pick and a 2024 second-round selection.

From San Jose State to Gonzaga to the first round of the NBA draft, Clarke's rise was unexpected. But it was well-deserved, considering his transformation into one of college basketball's most disruptive defenders and efficient producers, having finished second in the nation in player efficiency rating behind Zion Williamson. 


Quick hitters

Size: 6'8"

Weight: 208.7 lbs

Wingspan: 6'8¼"

Reach: 8'6"

Pro comparison: Larry Nance Jr.


Offensive strengths

A quick-twitch athlete with bounce, Clarke averaged 24.1 points per 40 minutes and shot 68.7 percent from the field. He's an easy-basket weapon in transition (90th percentile), off cuts (82nd percentile), on putbacks (98th percentile) and as the roll man (78th percentile). Clarke also showed some driving ability from the wing, having converted 9-of-13 takes to the rim out of spot-ups. He isn't a high-skill player, but Clarke has touch in the post, where he shot 60.9 percent.


Offensive weaknesses

At 208.7 pounds and 6'8" with a matching wingspan, Clarke measures more like a wing than the power forward or center he projects as. Lacking size, muscle and length, Clarke also lacks shooting ability, having shot 4-of-15 from three and 69.4 percent from the free-throw line as a 22-year-old. Though efficient playing to his athletic strengths, he isn't a high-level shot-creator, either. Coaches won't be running plays through him.


Defensive outlook

Clarke's nose for the ball, explosion and fearlessness translated to 4.5 blocks per 40 minutes. He's an active playmaker, both at the rim and in passing lanes (1.7 steals per 40). Clarke also moves well enough to switch and guard small forwards.  There is a decent chance he holds more value on defense than offense.


Rookie-year projection

Clarke should emerge as an impact rookie, capable of making things happen just by tapping into his athleticism, instincts and effort. He'll be used to come off the bench and give the lineup a shot of defensive activity. Offensively, he'll take what opponents give him and play to his strength as a finisher. 


Projected role: Elite energizer 

The best-case projection for Clarke shows him developing into one of the game's most valued energizers. Worst case, he's a defensive specialist. Either way, his role will continue to focus on making effort plays fueled by his wheels, leaping ability, reads and reaction working off the ball. Any face-up moves he can pull off or jump shots he winds up making would be a bonus.


Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports, Sports Reference.