Houston Rockets early season review: Gary Clark
Expectations for undrafted rookie Gary Clark were just to be a two-way player for the Houston Rockets this season, but because of his stellar play; he’s now a contributor for a team looking to get back to the Western Conference Finals.
Every team needs a spark, or some type of new energy. That’s what undrafted rookie out of University of Cincinnati Gary Clark has been for the Rockets through their early struggles this year. Coming into the season, Clark was slowed down by an ankle injury that kept him from playing in the Las Vegas Summer League.
But that didn’t stop Clark, who was able to work himself into the Rockets rotation by having the ability to switch on defense and make 3-pointers, ultimately forcing the Rockets to part ways with forward Carmelo Anthony.
Even though Clark isn’t shooting the ball well, only 33.3% from the field, and 29.5% from behind the arc, his presence is still felt on floor.
Per NBA.com advanced stats, the Rockets have a net rating of 2.1 with Clark on the court, compared to a -2.0 with him off the court. As Clark gets comfortable in the offense, and if James Ennis continues to be inconsistent, don’t be surprised if Clark is starting at the other forward spot alongside P.J Tucker sooner rather than later.
On November 15th, Clark had his best game of the season. The Rockets were +16 with him on the floor and he hit three 3-pointers in the third quarter to help beat the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
When it comes to rookie stats, Clark is already sixth in blocks, ahead of number one overall pick Deandre Ayton, and sixth in 3-pointers made, ahead of first round picks Grayson Allen and Aaron Holiday. This again is coming from an undrafted rookie on a G-League two-way contract, who more than likely will get a NBA contract from the Rockets.
Rockets leader Chris Paul has shown his appreciation for Clark this season, surprising him with a new Mercedes-Benz for his 24th birthday.
Here are pictures. Chris Paul bought Gary Clark a car for his 24th birthday yesterday. #Rockets https://t.co/XvAZWtRChQ
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) November 18, 2018
Not too many rookies get that kind of gift from another player coming into the league, but that just shows you Clark’s hard work this season and his teammates taking notice.
This season hasn’t started off the way the Rockets envisioned, but one of the few positives is that they found a hidden gem in Clark, who can now help them accomplish their ultimate goal of winning the NBA Title.