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Brandon Clarke to Grizzlies: Memphis' Current Roster After 2019 NBA Draft

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2019

Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke runs on the court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Pepperdine in Spokane, Wash., Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Young Kwak/Associated Press

The Memphis Grizzlies strengthened their frontcourt depth Thursday with the addition of Gonzaga star Brandon Clarke in the 2019 NBA draft.   

Bleacher Report NBA @BR_NBA

Grizzlies (via Thunder) select Brandon Clarke with the No. 21 pick https://t.co/E7SEzWtZ3O

NBA TV @NBATV

The Thunder select Brandon Clarke with the No. 21 pick in the 2019 #NBADraft! He will reportedly be headed to the @memgrizz via trade. https://t.co/VJFghGh5vT

The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Clarke with the 21st overall pick. According to ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Thunder traded the pick to Memphis for the No. 23 overall selection and a 2024 second-rounder.

Here's a look at where the swingman fits into Memphis' squad.

Check out B/R NBA draft expert Jonathan Wasserman’s scouting profile on Clarke. 

          

Grizzlies Active Roster and Average Salary (Expiration Year)

Avery Bradley, SG: $12.5M (2020)

Brandon Clarke, PF: $2.0M (2023)

Bruno Caboclo, SF: $1.2M (2020)

C.J. Miles, SF: $8.3M (2020)

Chandler Parsons, SF: $23.6M (2020)

Dillon Brooks, SF: $1.3M (2020)

Grayson Allen, SG: $2.3M (2022)

Ivan Rabb, PF: $1.3M (2020)

Ja Morant, PG: $7.2M (2023)

Jae Crowder, SF: $7M (2020)

Jaren Jackson Jr., PF: $6.4M (2022)

Jevon Carter, PG: $1.1M (2020)

Jonas Valanciunas, C: $16M (2020)

Julian Washburn, SG: $77K (2020)

Kyle Anderson, SF: $9.3M (2022)

Kyle Korver, SG: $7.4M (2020)

Yuta Watanabe, F: $77K (2020)

      

Free Agents

Delon Wright, PG: RFA

Joakim Noah, C: UFA

Jonas Valanciunas, C: Player

Justin Holiday, SG: UFA

Tyler Dorsey, SG: RFA

Tyler Zeller, C: UFA

    

Clarke only spent one season at Gonzaga after transferring from San Jose State. He made an immediate impact for the Zags and helped them go 30-3 before advancing to the Elite Eight of the 2019 NCAA tournament.

In 37 games, Clarke averaged 16.9 points and 8.6 rebounds while shooting 68.7 percent from the field.

His standout performance came in Gonzaga's second-round win over Baylor. He shot 15-of-18 from the field en route to scoring 36 points and finished with eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and five blocks.

Clarke's inability to stretch the floor is somewhat concerning. He was a 26.7 percent three-point shooter with Gonzaga, attempting just 15 shots from the perimeter.

Perhaps Clarke can refine his shooting game. Kawhi Leonard was famously a 25 percent shooter from three-point range in two years at San Diego State but has grown into a consistent deep threat in the NBA.

In his final big board ahead of the draft, Wasserman ranked Clarke as the 11th-best prospect and wrote the questions about his shooting shouldn't hinder his ability to carve out a role in the NBA:

"Clarke's agility, bounce and instincts translated to a 68.7 field-goal percentage, 4.5 blocks per 40 minutes and the nation's second-highest player efficiency rating behind Zion Williamson. Whether his ball skills or shooting develop or not, Clarke projects as an impact energizer just by running, jumping and reacting. However, he'll have to do so with the body of a wing: Clarke measured just 207.2 pounds and 6'8¼" with a matching wingspan."

The 2019 draft was widely viewed as top-heavy. Zion Williamson is the consensus No. 1 player by some distance, and Ja Morant is at No. 2. Then there's the rest of the class, with Clarke thrown in among that group.

Even if Clarke doesn't reach an All-Star level in the NBA, there's a lot to like about his game. He defends multiple positions, which is important with how teams are building their lineups now. He can score inside despite what is less-than-ideal size for a post player. And he's willing to crash the boards.

Perhaps Clarke's lack of shooting puts a clear ceiling on his potential. Should that prove to be the case, he'll still be a productive rotation player for years to come.

That's particularly valuable for the Grizzlies, who have Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. as their biggest building blocks and need the necessary depth to surround those two young stars.

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