Second only to Duke’s Zion Williamson in Player Efficiency Rating last season, Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke is a somewhat under the radar player who could prove to have an immediate impact at the next level. While most initially viewed Clarke as a fringe lottery candidate, he played his way up draft boards during the NCAA tournament with some incredibly well-rounded games – making him a possible target for the Lakers. While scoring isn’t his biggest asset, Clarke notched double-figure totals each game in the NCAA tournament (including a 36 spot on Baylor) to go with averaging 10 rebounds and just under four blocks per game.
A high motor but undersized big man, Clarke is able to impact the game in a variety of different ways. From his hard work on the glass to his elite rim-protection, Clarke is adept at finding at least one avenue each game where he can provide a team with some positive minutes.
However, Clarke still lacks an outside shot – arguably the biggest knock on his game right now. Despite his lack of size and shooting, Clarke is able to make up for that with his supreme athleticism and natural feel for the game. Athletic enough to get up over bigger players for rebounds and strong enough to hold his own down low, Clarke projects to be a very versatile small-ball big man in the NBA.
While Clarke may need some seasoning at the NBA level to reach his fullest potential, he is the type of player that can come in and immediately contribute useful minutes off the bench. Think of Clarke as a Jordan Bell type player with the potential to far exceed what Bell has accomplished with a loaded Warriors roster in his two short seasons.
Lakers NBA Draft Targets: Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke Among Best Fits
With the Lakers in a desperate scramble to build an immediate winner around LeBron James, Brandon Clarke makes sense should the Lakers wind up keeping their pick. With Moritz Wagner being the only big man on the team payroll heading into next season, the Lakers might be wise to spend their draft pick on a player who can help shore up that area immediately.
Part of what makes Clarke so valuable is that despite being nominally listed as a power forward, he has the intangible skills to possibly be a versatile weapon that can be deployed at either power forward or center against much bigger men.
On paper, the Lakers are already fairly congested at the forward position with James, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram all set to see heavy minutes at the forward spots. However, the Lakers saw considerable success last year sliding Ingram down to the shooting guard role and with James firmly entrenched at small forward, only Kuzma is left standing to see significant minutes at the power forward spot. While the Lakers do need outside shooting more than anything, Clarke could offer them a very solid small ball big man to run out alongside Ball, Ingram, James, and Kuzma (assuming they are unable to land a second star) as well as a bundle of energy off the bench.
Brandon Clarke Latest Mock Drafts
Our own mock draft as well as Tankathon have Brandon Clarke going off the board JUST before reaching the Lakers, at 10th overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves. This seems to be the general consensus on Clarke although a few other mock drafts have him going a bit later in the first round.