How Would Clarke, Hachimura Fit In With Jazz?
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In a previous NBA lifetime, the lineup of Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors would have been optimal for the Utah Jazz. The other “Twin Towers” do a great job of protecting the paint, discouraging drives and rolling to the basket for big time dunks.
But this current NBA puts a premium on outside shooting, offensive efficiency and the ability to switch on defense, which explains why Gobert and Favors started most games but never finished them.
On the Jazz Notes podcast, Kendra Andrews, who covers Gonzaga for The Athletic joined the show to talk about Gonzaga duo Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura.
So, why would the Utah Jazz even think about drafting a power forward in Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke, who blocks shots, dunks everything in sight and really doesn’t have an offensive game that would compliment Gobert? Well, maybe it’s because Clarke would be able to do his thing when Gobert is not in the game.
“The one thing the Jazz have wanted to improve on in this upcoming season is they want a sharpshooter. And Brandon really doesn’t bring that sniper shooter that they really want there,” said The Athletic’s Kendra Andrews on the Jazz Notes podcast. “But as a 4 (power forward) he could really provide a boost off the bench.”
Andrews covered Clarke at Gonzaga and believed that spark off the bench would include helping the Jazz’s already good defense. Clarke is an athletic forward who averaged 3.2 blocks per game last season for the Zags and 5.5 defensive rebounds. Overall, he pulled down 8.6 boards per contest. If you watch Clarke play, you can see why teams would covet him on their team.
“Blocking shots, dunking over anyone and everyone, and giving hustle. He’s an elite defender who can also provide some explosiveness on offense in the paint. But you know he has taken a lot of pride in improving his shot,” Andrews said, adding that Clarke is a willing learner.
As mentioned before, Clarke would not be considered a “stretch 4.” He attempted only 15 three-pointers in his lone season in Spokane, and made four of them. Clarke only made 2 triples in his 2 other collegiate basketball seasons at San Jose State.
“I don’t think he necessarily avoided shooting the 3. If he saw the opportunity he would take it because it’s something he wanted to improve on and something he wanted to prove he could do. But I think he knew where he could best help the team,” which included destroying opponents at the rim according to Andrews.
The Jazz may not even have an opportunity to draft Clarke. Mock drafts from several media websites show that Clarke could be lottery bound. Even if Clarke is drafted by a team who already has a power forward on their roster, Andrews doesn’t believe he will be sent down to the G-League once the season gets started.
“He’s a guy who I think can learn as he plays…I think Clarke is a type of guy that once he faces top tier competition, the guys he would face in the NBA, he can play up to that level. He’ll bring his play up just to compete with those guys.”
Clarke’s front court running mate in Spokane, Rui Hachimura, was thought to be a better prospect than Clarke coming into this past college basketball season. Now, many mock drafts have Clarke going ahead of Hachimura. Andrews said Hachimura has the look of a lottery pick, averaging 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting 59 percent from the field.
“But (Hachimura) also has limits to his game. There has been a little bit of concern if he can develop his offense more to play at the NBA level. He’s not super consistent. He’s had some games where he has only scored 2-points…But I really think it depends on what teams are looking (at him) and what teams want because he is also another freak athlete.”
Neither player could end up falling to the Jazz that late in the draft and neither of them fit what the Jazz need in terms of a “stretch 4.” But with the Jazz’s positive track record of developing players, Clarke or Hachimura could end up forming a dynamic front court duo with Gobert in the future.
The Jazz Notes podcast drops at least weekly and can be found at KSLSports.com, the KSL Newsradio App, Apple Podcasts or other podcast providers.
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