After a historic rookie season, Brandon Clarke is entering a crucial third season in his career. Desperate for a bounce back season, Clarke has gone from a seemingly untouchable piece of the future to battling for a spot in the rotation all together. The emergence of Xavier Tillman Sr. and the strength of Kyle Anderson at the four has all but pushed BC to the 11th or 12th man on the roster.
Brandon Clarke will be Rookie Extension eligible at the end of the 2021-22 season with a club option for 2022-23. Long seen as a third piece along side Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., Clarke may actually be close to entering a contract year instead.
Much of Clarke’s success is tied to the springy pogo stick-like athleticism he displayed early and often in his career. When a player relies upon that athleticism as a means for success, it is never a great thing when the injury report reads: ankle, calf, quad, hip. BC missed some time in his sophomore season dealing with lower body injuries that were sure to hinder his development. Another part of development is getting time on the floor, and as last season progressed Tillman earned the trust of Coach Taylor Jenkins over BC.
So the question about Brandon Clarke now is, what is he? Is he a part of the future with Ja and Jaren? Is he a possible centerpiece in a big trade Grizz fans are hoping takes place? Is he simply a piece moved a la Grayson Allen to save some money and gain a draft pick? Is he just an energy rotation player that never makes more than ten million dollars per season?
There is little doubt that when healthy, BC is one of the more electrifying players on the Grizzlies roster. He’s highly efficient in the floater game and is an excellent fast break partner for Ja Morant. His athleticism allows for him to be versatile on the defensive end, a highly coveted skill set in today’s NBA. His jump-shot is not easy on the eye nor the stat sheet as he has struggled from shooting beyond the mid-range. The hope for BC was that he could expand his range but it seems to be heading in the opposite directions at times.
With a healthy offseason and a little extra motivation in terms of a contract, Brandon Clarke is poised for a bounce back season. Dillon Brooks is currently on the shelf, which opens up a rotation spot - and let’s face it, someone is destined to miss some time. The opportunity should be there despite the presence of Xavier Tillman Sr.
Clarke just has to get back to who he is. He does not have to be a star. He does not even need to be sixth man of the year as some were predicting last season. He just needs to be great at being Brandon Clarke. The hustle plays, the blocked shots, the electrifying dunks off a lob, getting to the floater zone and returning to his high efficiency production.
Who is Brandon Clarke? He’s a young player who most likely will not have his career defined by years 1-3. He’s an awesome role player that fits in nicely with what the Memphis Grizzlies are doing.
Brandon Clarke is going to bounce right back into the rotation and the hearts of Grizzlies fans everywhere.