One of the Houston Rockets’ biggest issues all year has been their lack of depth on the wing, which is something Gary Clark could help.
The Houston Rockets are one of many teams who use a small-ball power forward. P.J. Tucker is 6-5 and covers multiple positions, not just power forwards. Gary Clark has a chance to continue that mold of a player if he can continue to get minutes and consistently be great on defense. Clark is the type of player that can fill the Rockets’ lack of depth at the wing position with his size that can also rebound.
Gary Clark’s college pedigree
At the University Of Cincinnati, Clark started every game of his career. Clark made an immediate impact with the Bearcats and in his second year became a defensive juggernaut. In his sophomore season, he averaged 1.2 steals and 1.5 blocks and was named second-team All-AAC and conference Defensive Player of the Year. Clark would go on to win AAC player of the year and Defensive Player of the Year in his final season. Clark also played at center so he has also shown an ability to guard multiple positions. Clark finished his college career by leading the Bearcats to the AAC title game.
Gary Clark’s NBA career so far
Clark came into the league last year and immediately had an impact by starting a handful of games. He showed his range from deep and an ability to play good defense on the perimeter. Then, he hit the rookie wall and lost his starting position and ultimately his spot on the team, as he was sent back to the G League. This year started the same way, with Clark on the end of the bench bouncing back and forth from the G League to the 12th or 13th roster spot. Clark finally received his opportunity when the Rockets were hit hard by injuries to Clint Capela and Danuel House.
In the win against the Miami Heat, Clark had his biggest impact of the year. Clark finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, a block and a steal, showing an ability to be a good weak-side shot-blocker and help on the boards.
The Houston Rockets wings right now are House, Thabo Sefolosha and Ben McLemore. It’s a small sample size, of course, but with injuries to Eric Gordon and Gerald Green even with House back, Clark should still be in the rotation.
With Clark, it’s not just his stats that prove he should get minutes, it’s the defensive rotation and challenging shots from the weak side and rebounding that makes all the difference.
The Rockets play Tucker a ton of minutes at almost 40 a game. Houston will eventually need a plan to reduce Tucker’s minutes so that he can be fresh for the playoffs. Clark can fill this role and, if he can get consistent minutes, can continue to improve his shooting and overall game.
The one thing we know for sure with Clark is that he has a defensive pedigree and any team can never have too many defensive-minded players.