Height/Weight: 6’8, 215 lbs
Brandon Clarke is an extremely skilled all-around big for Gonzaga. He can put the ball down and attack the basket like a slashing forward, while also being able to protect the rim like a true big. There are a lot of strengths in his game as he’s one of the more NBA ready prospects coming out of Gonzaga we’ve seen in a while.
Let’s begin talking about his ball handling. As mentioned, he is someone who can put the ball down and attack the basket. He can do that both in transition and in a half-court set. In transition is where he thrives though.
Gonzaga loves to push the pace with Clarke and let him get to the rim as he’s a constant mismatch for the opposition. Brandon doesn’t rely on being stronger than his opponent, but rather longer and quicker. He’s got NBA ready athleticism and ball handling for someone of his size if you think of him as a stretch four.
That brings us to the next component of his game, his shooting. If Clarke is going to succeed at the next level as a stretch four (the jury is still out on if he can create enough offensively to be a 3) than he is going to have to shoot the ball extremely well.
Brandon Clarke is a smart player and takes what the defense gives him. He knows that he doesn’t need to shoot the ball from the outside because he can just get an easy bucket at the basket instead. But, Clarke has shown us an extremely nice touch from the perimeter when he has decided to let it go from out there.
It’s not something he will always go to, but it’s quite clear that he’s got the shooting touch to be a solid potential stretch four in the NBA.
Next up is his athleticism, which is so apparent whenever you watch him play. Whether it is getting up for rebounds, slamming those rebounds home, or protecting the rim, he can do it all. Brandon Clarke will undoubtedly be one of the leaders in blocks this season as he’s been hovering around 3 per game all year long. Not only does he protect the rim on straight line drives, but he can protect it from some pretty thunderous dunks too.
Clarke’s athleticism is also what attributes to his high efficiency on the floor. His length allows for him to shoot over the top of defenders and quite easily. Just like he’ll finish statistically as one of the top rim protectors in the nation, the same thing will go for his efficiency at the rim.
Brandon Clarke isn’t too aggressive on the boards. Well, not nearly as aggressive as you’d hope would be the better way to phrase that. Quite often, Clarke will play good defense and slide his feet, but then watch as the ball goes up to the rim. It’s not that he falls asleep on defense or doesn’t have solid fundamentals, but he just sometimes forgets to box-out his man.
The other main weakness to discuss is his offensive creativity. Clarke relies on his teammates to be the initiator of the offense. When you give Brandon the ball on the wing, he doesn’t have the pure offensive talent to create off of the dribble. He can slash to the rim, catch it well on the fly, and finish like one of the best, but in the sense of a pure creator role, he doesn’t have that capability.
As mentioned before, Brandon Clarke has a nice looking jumper and can effectively shoot it from the outside when he wants to. But, he doesn’t always want to. Brandon Clarke is already 22 years old and while we have seen some great progress in his game, his confidence with his shot is one that we haven’t seen taken any steps forward.
Even if you characterize his shot as NBA level, if he hesitates to shoot it at the next level, he’s going to have to be elite in all other facets of his game to earn consistent time on the court. As of right now, he isn’t necessarily elite. That will have to change.
Brandon Clarke is a very skilled big for the college game. He’s got great intangibles and should fit in perfectly into today’s NBA if he can become more comfortable with his outside shot. That if is what separates us from having him as a top 10 pick. That doesn’t necessarily he won’t be selected that high.
It’s quite unknown where Clarke could land in this Draft, but as of right now we have him right around that 20 spot in the Draft. But if he continues to look stellar to end this season for the Zags and then flashes in the Draft Combine like we know he should, he’ll easily be in late lottery consideration for everyone.