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Rockets 2019-2020 player previews: Gary Clark

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Can Clark step up offensively this season?

Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Gary Clark may be entering the first full year of his shiny, new three-year contract, officially making him a bona fide NBA player for the ‘19-’20 season, but he’s not out of the woods just yet.

Last year, Clark was Houston’s most important project and an immediate fan favorite among Rockets faithful. Houston spent a lot of time flirting with Clark in 2019, keeping him on a two-way contract, sending him down to the Rio Grande Vipers for a few games, give him a ton of minutes one night and sitting him the next, but eventually they made it official and locked him for three years mid-season. Truly a testament to his huge upside.

Now it’s time for Clark to translate that to an NBA floor.

There may be a lot of wings on the Rockets currently, but if last year was any indication, Clark’s minutes are his to lose. The 6-foot-8 forward logged an impressive 51 games with Houston in 2019 and contributed 12.6 minutes a game, and he did it during a crucial stint of injuries and, albeit, desperation to just win some games. Those were valuable moments to show his worth, and he (obviously) did a great job of doing so.

When he’s out on the floor, everyone knows exactly what he’s good at: playing defense and clogging the lanes. Outside of center Clint Capela, and depending what Tyson Chandler brings, there isn’t a lot of shot blocking for Houston, so there will always be a spot on the roster for anyone who can close down lanes.

What Clark needs to show early on this season is how well he’s been developing his three-point shot. His deep shot was on and off last year, but he’s proven before that he can be an effective three-point shooter, he just has to show consistency, and that comes only with practice.

The Rockets clearly see something in Clark, and they’re willing to give him the time and the money, even if his contract is only 50-percent guaranteed this season, to prove he can be an integral part of this team. The truth is that Clark does have all the tangibles and defensive prowess to be effective on the opposing side of the ball, but what he does with the ball in his hands may ultimately determine his fate.