Brandon Clarke averaged 16.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game during his junior season at Gonzaga.

By Kaelen Jones
June 20, 2019

The Grizzlies selected Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke with the No. 21 pick in the 2019 draft.

Oklahoma City traded the No. 21 pick to Memphis. 

Clarke excelled during his lone season with Gonzaga, averaging 16.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game during his junior campaign. Clarke spent the first two seasons of his collegiate career at San Jose State prior to helping the Bulldogs advance to the Elite Eight at the 2019 NCAA tournament.

Clarke, listed 6'8" and 210 pounds, was named a first-team All-West Coast Conference performer in addition to WCC Defensive Player of the Year and WCC Rookie of the Year last season. He also was a finalist for the Wooden Award, given annually to the nation's most outstanding college basketball player.

SI NBA draft expert Jeremy Woo’s breakdownClarke was perhaps the premier energy big in college basketball this season, combining efficient, low-maintenance offense with prolific shot-blocking skills and giving Gonzaga an interior backbone. Because he lacks prototypical size, length and body type, and because he’s nearly 23 years old, many NBA teams have questions as far as what parts of his game will translate, and in what fashion. He may find it much harder to scavenge for tip-ins and offensive rebounds against frontcourts that can match him athletically. There are concerns about his shooting, given his iffy mechanics, low volume of three-point attempts and average free-throw clip. Clarke knows who he is as a player and should offer some degree of floor with his motor and willingness to do the dirty work, but it’s hard to see him being very dynamic offensively at the next level, which caps some of the ceiling here.

Jeremy Woo's grade: B+

I’m not as high on Clarke as many are, but based on the way he was trending, this is a good value pick for Memphis. In this range of the draft, his shortcomings are less of a concern, and his considerable strengths make him a worthwhile choice. He’ll be a nice fit next to Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., giving the Grizzlies a potential lineup that can play fast, catch lobs and defend with flexibility in the frontcourt. I like the fit, and if Clarke pans out, this will end up looking smart.

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