Draft Profile: Brandon Clarke Looking To Make Immediate Impact In The NBA

The Hawks hold the rights to the #8, #10, #35, #41 and #44 picks in the upcoming June 20 NBA Draft. At Hawks.com, we’ll be talking to some of the writers and bloggers who watched some of this year’s key prospects most closely.

Today we speak to Keith Ybanez (@slipperyk), Editor, SB Nation affliate of The Slipper Still Fits, about forward Brandon Clarke.

What does Brandon Clarke do well?

Clarke is an elite athlete, and he uses that athleticism most effectively when protecting the rim on the defensive end. The numbers he posted at the NBA Combine in terms of his vertical jump and agility drills were not surprising to anyone who watched him play in college, and that explosiveness allows him to cover a lot of ground around the paint to contest shots and challenge any player at the rim despite not having great length. He’s also one of the best I’ve seen at making second and third jumps in quick sequence. What makes him an elite rim protector, however, is that he’s able to pair his prodigious physical talents with excellent timing and an uncanny feel for blocking shots. When you put those traits in a single player, you get someone who led Division I in blocks last season while setting a new single season blocks record at Gonzaga. Here’s a fun stat: he had as many blocks (117) as he did missed field goals during his entire junior campaign.

How does his game translate to the NBA?

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Clarke will be able to make an immediate impact at the defensive end for all the reasons stated above. Not only is he an elite shot blocker, but he’s very good at defending the pick and roll and taking away angles when hedging or helping. He also proved on multiple occasions that he has the chops to cheap nba jerseys from china
defend smaller players on the perimeter in isolation. His next coaching staff will appreciate the versatility in defensive coverages that he affords, and they’ll be able to keep him on the floor because he consistently makes smart basketball plays within the team structure while playing with maximum effort. He’s a very capable scorer in and around the paint, featuring good touch on floaters, jump hooks, and up-and-unders. He’s also an absolute menace in the pick and roll on the offensive end, and will provide a lot of highlights finishing lobs.

What can he do to improve?

His shooting has come a long way from where it was prior to transferring to Gonzaga, but it remains the area in his game that requires more development. He successfully overhauled his shooting mechanics during his redshirt year after transferring from San Jose State, and now has a much better foundation moving forward. He was comfortable taking open jumpers last season, but he simply needs more reps with his new mechanics in order for his shot to become more reliable. He’s not going to be invited to the three-point competition during All-Star weekend, but he’s capable of becoming a shooter that opposing defenses at least have to respect.

Former Maryland star Kevin Huerter selected to NBA’s All-Rookie second team

Former Maryland standout Kevin Huerter was named Tuesday among the top 10 rookies in the NBA this season.

Huerter was voted to the All-Rookie second team after receiving one first-team vote and 43 second-team votes among the panel made of up 100 broadcasters and sportswriters.

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Huerter, who was drafted No. 19 overall by the Atlanta Hawks last June, was the first former Terp to be chosen to the league’s top rookie teams since Steve Francis was on the first team in 1999-2000.

Huerter’s teammate, point guard Trae Young,cheap nba jerseys
was one of two rookies to be unanimous first-team selections, along with Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks. Young and…

Bogdan Bogdanovic Finds His Groove in Second Season

At 26, Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic has the cool, laid-back vibe of a longstanding veteran who’s seen and done it all, gliding to his spots on the floor, taking control of a game in critical junctures and rarely making costly mistakes.

A professional basketball player since age 18, starter on the Serbian National Team in the Olympics and EuroLeague champion, he understands, as well as anyone, the importance of cohesion, trust and confidence for a winning team.

So, while many around the NBA were surprised when the Kings remained in the Playoff hunt into late March and exceeded their preseason expectation by a League-best 14 wins, Bogdanovic wasn’t one of them.

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The seeds were planted, he says, months earlier, while the team was beginning to find its footing and forging its current high-octane playing style.

“(Last season), we just started bad, and it was all about the start, I think,” he said. “From January or February, we started playing (well) and from that moment, we were making the small steps.”

“Bogi” wasn’t on the court for the first 10 games cheap nba jerseys
of the 2018-19 campaign while recovering from a surgical procedure on his knee, but once he returned, he settled into a crucial role as the first player off the bench in place of either point guard De’Aaron Fox or shooting guard Buddy Hield.

Bogdanovic, an All-Rookie Second Team selection last year, thrived while typically employed as the primary ball-handler and focal point in the second unit.

“I love it,” he said. “I think I can create a lot of open shots for others and for (myself).”

In nearly identical minutes as his first season (27.8 per game), he averaged more points (14.1), assists (3.8) and rebounds (3.5), and despite an uptick in usage (22.3 percent compared to 19.6), was even better at taking care of the ball. Among all wings, Bogdanovic ranked in the 94th percentile in assist rate, with a hand in 19.8 percent of his teammates’ shots, as well as in the 80th percentile in turnover rate (13.0), according to Cleaning the Glass.

Bogdanovic continued to be one of Sacramento’s biggest threats in the pick-and-roll (0.83 points per possession, via Synergy Sports), and with opponents forced to respect his perimeter jumper, drove to the rim more frequently (2.9 attempts inside five feet, versus 1.9 last season). His reliable mid-range shot was still a major part of his offense, but he reduced his attempts from that zone by nearly a quarter in favor of more threes and layups.

Bogdanovic, however, is the first to acknowledge that his sophomore season wasn’t flawless, and even a player as poised and experienced isn’t immune to periodic mishaps.

“It was a good season; a nice season, with a lot of ups and downs,” he said. “A lot of stuff to learn and do better.”

Those ups for No. 8?

Chief among them was his favorite moment of the season, the night he drilled a fadeaway three-pointer over Lakers center Tyson Chandler as the final buzzer sounded at Golden 1 Center on Dec. 27, 2018. The unforgettable shot, in a game he previously deemed a “must win,” lifted the Kings over their division rival in thrilling fashion, as his teammates mobbed him near the bench and the crowd exploded in jubilation.

Two nights later, he dropped 21 points in Los Angeles – his third outing with 20 or more in four games – capping off a terrific two-month stretch during which the Kings outscored opponents by 8.9 points per 100 possessions when the multifaceted reserve ran the offense without a traditional point guard on the court, according to NBA.com.

As the team’s most versatile weapon and highly effective floor-spacer, he thrived with or without the ball in different lineup combinations; a three-guard unit with Bogdanovic joining Fox and Hield generated a superb plus-12.7 net rating over his first 24 appearances.

But soon after, the heavier workload and a fluctuating role began to take their toll on the second-year standout.
While Bogdanovic averaged 15.4 points on 44.1 percent from the field and 37 percent from behind the arc through the end of December, his production dipped to 13.4 points on 38.8 from the floor and 31.5 percent from distance over the subsequent two months.

Looking back, he might’ve put too much pressure on himself, Bogdanovic acknowledges, while trying to build chemistry on the fly with newly-acquired teammates and shifting in and out of the starting lineup – all while simultaneously trying to rediscover his own missing rhythm and comfort zone.

“I had so many different roles at one time,” he said. “I was just trying to help the team.”

But shooters, as the saying goes, shoot. So Bogdanovic didn’t fidget with a routine he’s kept consistent throughout his career or become apprehensive about his trusty mechanics.

He replayed stretches of ineffective play in his head and poured through hours of game film to find a way to rectify the problem.

When the shot clock ticked toward zero, he noticed, the ball would often wind up in his hands, with no alternative but to hoist up a prayer while draped by his defender. Other times, he was uncharacteristically rushing plays, especially in transition, where his points per possession declined from 1.26 as a rookie to 0.96 this year.

“It was, sometimes, bad (shot) selection,” he said. “You get frustrated, which is normal. You want to score and then you take a bad shot. That’s another experience (to learn from).”

A player who’s fueled by confidence in his shot-making, Bogdanovic, naturally, broke out of the slump, posting his customarily efficient splits (47.4/49.1/81.0) over the final 10 games of the season. Among 51 players with at least 50 three-point attempts during that segment, only five were more accurate.

One of Sacramento’s best post-All-Star break units came once Bogdanovic returned to the bench and shared the floor with fellow reserves Marvin Bagley, Harry Giles, Corey Brewer and Yogi Ferrell. That five-man combination outscored opponents by 14 points in 30 minutes of playing time, while dishing 21 assists compared to only four turnovers.

His second season may not have come with as steep of a learning curve as his first, when he debuted in the fast-paced, physical NBA after spending six years in a European game that emphasized setting up the half-court offense and methodically moving the ball. But the challenges he encountered and found a way to overcome may prove to be even more impactful in the long run.

With his polished skill set and ability to influence the game in a multitude of ways – combined with that calm and composed demeanor – it’s easy to envision Bogdanovic blossoming into one of the most dynamic playmakers in the League.

“I’m ready to be even better,” he said. “(I’m) getting into my prime in my third season and (I’m going to) continue to play at the highest level.”