The Golden State Warriors are disgustingly good at playing basketball. Everyone knows this, as they have lost as many NBA games as we have, and we don’t even participate in such events.
Reasons for their success have been well documented. They have the best player in the league in Stephen Curry, move the ball around with such vigor and unselfishness that it is sometimes hard for our eyeballs to keep up, they make more threes than some teams attempt (doing so, humorously efficiently), and so on.
The level at which they are performing is simply mind-boggling. It is historic. It is, simply, all the positive adjectives in the dictionary. All of them.
In basketball terms, I suppose you can say they are also rich in talent. As it so happens to often be with the wealthy, the Warriors may have gotten even richer lately.
Ian Clark isn’t exactly a household name. And, no, I’m not about to declare him the GOAT or some future All-Star. However, there are certain aspects Clark brings to the table that Golden State could maximize. Using some hindsight, it makes so much sense for him to be playing there.
You see, Clark is a world-class bucket-maker. He has always been one. You can trace his abilities to score back to his time in college at Belmont — where, during his senior season, Ian Clark averaged 18 points per game on 54 percent shooting. It is also worth noting because Golden State law makes it important, he shot over 46 percent from three.
Those are college stats, though. Much of which aren’t transferable. It likely plays a factor into Clark not being drafted in 2013 after he finished devouring the souls of collegiate defenders.
What followed was rather predictable for a 6’3″ shooting guard few felt could duplicate his scoring abilities at the next level.
Clark was able to latch on for a bit with the Utah Jazz, though, because of a disgustingly great performances in the Las Vegas Summer League, with his highlight game being a 33 point reign of terror showcased during the championship event.
No matter, though. Coaches and general managers can be more fickle than our grumpy next door neighbor. While he was signed with the Jazz through 2013-15, Clark spent a large portion of his professional career assigned to the D-League before being waived by Utah late last March. After that he managed to land with the Denver Nuggets for seven games. It all culminated with him being unemployed by the end of the season.
By the end of the 2015-15 season, one of college basketball’s most prolific scorers in 2013 only played a total of 53 games, scoring a grand total of 125 points in those outings, and never shot over 40 percent for either team. Clark’s future looked grim, as his time in the NBA was unspectacular.
Enter the fun-filled world that is being allowed to play basketball with rhythm, a fun pace, and a green-light to shoot the rock from anywhere on the counter. Casual humans call this place Golden State.
The sample size is small, as he is a back-end of the bench type of player, but in 15 games this season Clark is averaging 4 points per game — on over 45 percent shooting from the floor and 52 percent from three — in only 6 minutes of action an outing.
I know. I know. Not humorous numbers, but while slightly misleading, to put that in some perspective, Clark’s per 36 minutes is 22 points and six assists per game, and his effective field goal percentage is hovering around 58 percent. Ian Clark is a gosh slam marvel!
Okay… calm down.
Those numbers are from a guy Golden State rarely uses. That is the luxury currently afforded to the Warriors; A player dismissed by two other teams who simply saw him as a tiny, not consistent enough guard, and realized that he probably works for what they need.
Again, I don’t want to make it all sound so hyperbolic. It is hard, though, as — full disclosure — I have long loved his game. With that being said, if Clark’s sole role is to play during blowouts, keep things moving in the process, then Golden State probably couldn’t have picked a better guy.
What will be interesting, however, is to see if his minutes ever increase as the season gets a bit longer in the tooth. Depending on how Golden State feels about chasing history, a time may come when players who usually play sparingly will be asked to feel the void left by star players resting. It could be at that time we see how good Ian Clark actually is. More importantly, how good he is in a system which allows him to maximize his abilities.
That truly is the thing, too. Basketball players are often at the mercy of a coach’s system. Ian Clark had very few options in the NBA of places where he would even make a roster, nevertheless get a little run, or play in a system that gives him the opportunity to succeed. Now that he has found his perfect match, only time will tell if he ends up being as sneaky-awesome as I’m declaring now.
Regardless, worst case scenario for our planet’s favorite scorer: Ian Clark never plays more than 6 minutes per game this season, but entertains the masses with his bucket-making prowess. As for the best case, well, he could end up being a truly dynamic off the bench scorer for Golden State down the line. Either way, there’s no losers.
Celebrate Ian Clark, humans. He is here for us to enjoy.