So what all is there to say about Gary Clark Jr.? Well, for one, he’s not even the most famous Gary Clark Jr. in Texas. Musician, genius guitarist, and overall B.A. person, Gary Clark Jr., has the exact same name as him. Even down to the “Jr.” What are the odds?
But really, if I had to sum up Clark’s year with the Rockets, I’d say it was my astonished reaction to the fact that he actually played 51 games for Houston. That’s 62-percent of their 82 games. That’s also not a poke at Clark as a player, but it’s more indicative of the Houston Rockets’ start to the season.
After going undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Rockets signed the former Cincinnati Bearcats star, AAC Player of the Year, and 2x AAC Defensive Player of the Year to a two-way contract. At 6’8” with a modest wingspan of 6’10”, Clark looked to be the makings of a steal for Houston. He was scouted as a guy who was active, a good rebounder, and a great defender. Clark also shot 43-percent from three on 62 attempts his senior year at Cincy.
Clark wasn’t given much time to show his worth in the preseason. In 5 games, he averaged a little under 17 minutes a game to go along with 7.6 points and 3.6 rebounds on 54-percent from the field and 55-percent from 3. He wasn’t incredibly impressive, but he wasn’t bad either. Clark showed the tangibles of someone who could contribute.
After only getting garbage time or no minutes in the first four games, there was a mini Clarkaissance in the early part of the season. For 17 straight games, Clark got significant minutes off the bench, playing as many as 33 minutes against the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 11, while consistently getting over 20 minutes on a nightly basis.
There was never an expectation for Clark to fill it up, of course - he averaged only 2.9 a game this season. What was expected of him was to disrupt plays, hustle, clog up the paint, grab rebounds, and occasionally knock down an open three. All of which he could do well at times. Here’s a good taste of that:
Gary Clark's best plays this season
Rio Grande Valley Vipers #2WayPlayer Gary Clark is breaking out in his rookie season with the Houston Rockets. the BEST plays at the NBA level this season from the Cincinnati Bearcats Mens Basketball product!Posted by NBA G League on Thursday, November 15, 2018
The Rockets, with Clark’s two-way contract running out, would eventually sign him him to a three-year, partially guaranteed deal in early December. In most cases, that would be a sign of big things to come.
Unfortunately, much like the way of James Ennis III, Clark never really found a consistent place on the rotation after that clump of games. He had a few more moments after that, though. Clark played nearly 32 minutes in the win against the Miami Heat on Feb. 28. He scored a season-high 14 points and grabbed 5 total rebounds in his second and final start on the season. Clark also scored 9 big points in 27 minutes in the win against the Golden State Warriors on Nov. 15.
All in all, Clark has a modest rookie season with Houston, and, most notably, his three-ball was never really there for him.
Averages: 51 GP, 12.6 MPG, 2.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 33% FG%, 29.7% 3P%
Given his tangibles and presence on defense, part of me believes there was always a spot on the roster for him if he could consistently knock down the three-point shot. Hopefully. he has a great summer and preseason with the Rockets to give him a chance at making the rotation again next season.
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