It’s no secret that people always pull a little bit harder for the mysterious young players at the end of the bench. For Earl Clark and Magic fans it’s no different. In comes a former lottery pick -something Magic fans aren’t used to seeing- with talent, height and a mini fro and naturally the wonder will be there. Despite being a throw-in during the recent mega trades, Earl has a real chance to become a very good player in this league.
Stan Van Gundy on Earl Clark after last night’s Magic victory, “I think that Earl is going to be a really good player. I think that he offensively is very talented, he’s quick, he can shoot the ball, and he can put it on the floor. He is a very hard working guy. He’s the first in here every day, and he is here on off days. Every game he hasn’t played in, after the game, he’s in there working out and shooting until about 11 o’clock.”
High praise indeed. Stan is not someone that is easy to please, but he has always had a soft spot for those guys that are willing to put in the extra work.
Coming out of Louisville, the knock on Earl Clark was that he relied solely on his athleticism. Easy to do that when you are 6’10″ and have been dominating against every competition you have ever faced. Then coming into the league as a Phoenix Sun, it’s not surprising that he didn’t necessarily learn the defensive basics he needed to be successful.
Earl’s path in the NBA will be paved on how well he can learn to defend. He’s 6’10″ but he isn’t your standard PF. Think Rashard Lewis before he lost his ability to drive the ball, show emotion on the court or had his HGH taken away. He is most likely never going to be a 20+ point scorer but he can be a very good role player for a team just based on the probablity that he will make the defensive jump. We want more Josh Smith/Lamar Odom, less Andray Blatche.
Stan speaking further on Earl’s defense and potential, “He’s got to get better with his defensive principles. I think when he understands what we’re doing defensive-wise, he can be an outstanding defender. He moves his feet and he plays hard.
Remember, you can’t coach basic defense. It’s a mentality. Earl is showing that basic mentality already.
Stan continued, “I love what he brings to the table, I really do. I think as he goes on I think we will see the same type of jump that we have seen with Brandon and Ryan.”
Whoa. Brandon Bass couldn’t escape the dog house last year and now he is starting for a finals contender. Obviously Brandon has been in the league longer than Earl but it is still extremely strong words coming from Stan. Earl, Brandon and Ryan all have different, unique games but they all made big jumps when they came to Orlando. The fact that Earl is already showing that is a great sign.
Only one person can free Earl Clark and that is himself. He’s on the right path and after being buried in Phoenix, the confidence is growing.
Earl after last night’s solid 18 minutes played, “It feels great, I work so hard and Coach appreciates it.” He further added, “I’m the most confident I’ve ever been.”
It will be very interesting to monitor Earl’s development here in Orlando throughout the remainder of the season and hopefully as years go on. Free Earl Clark.
Watch video of Earl Clark speaking about his new-found confidence.
Brian Serra is the Chief Earl Clark Correspondent for Howard the Dunk and the founder of MagicBasketballOnline.com. You can follow/add him on Twitter and on Facebook. Compare pricing and find the cheapest tickets for all future Orlando Magic games using TiqIQ technology!