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Prospect scouting report: Brandon Clarke

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He’s the first lottery prospect to work out for the Hornets, so he’s the first prospect we’ll preview.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-West Regional-Gonzaga vs Texas Tech Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Clarke enters the draft as one of the most high-impact collegiate players in recent memory. He’s been mocked all over the back half of the lottery and is the first lottery prospect the Charlotte Hornets have brought in for a pre-draft workout. Let’s take a look at what he brings to the table.

Measurements

Height: 6’7.25” without shoes, 6’8.25” with shoes
Wingspan: 6’8.25”
Standing reach: 8’6”
Weight: 207 pounds
Standing vertical: 34”
Max vertical: 40.5”

Strengths: Athleticism, rim protection, switchability, all around defense, pick and roll finishing, efficiency

The overall efficiency of Clarke’s final collegiate season was overshadowed by the awe inspiring play of Zion Williamson. His 37.2 PER and +18.9 Box Plus/Minus would’ve been the highest in college basketball since those stats started being calculated in the 2010-11 season if it weren’t for Williamson (just ahead of Anthony Davis). He’s one of the best college basketball players in the past decade from an efficiency and impact standpoint.

The main selling point for Clarke as a prospect is his athleticism and defense. His standing and maximum vertical leaps were the highest of any big measured at this year’s combine. He’s a tenacious and versatile defender that can protect the rim and switch onto guards if he needs to. He makes up for his lack of length with terrific instincts and athleticism. His effort level and agility help him stay in front of smaller players on the perimeter, and he’s fantastic at recovering and blocking shots from behind if he gets beat off the dribble.

Offensively, Clarke is more of a connector and finisher than he is a playmaker. His athleticism helps him here as well, as he can elevate to catch lobs and make acrobatic finishes in traffic. His 69.9% true shooting percentage is behind only Williamson and Jaxson Hayes in this draft class.

He’s not a jump shooter right now, and he may never be, but there is some reason to believe that he can develop there. His mechanics aren’t perfect, but they are a vast improvement over what he was working with when he got to college.

Question marks: Age, length, offensive skill at size

Clarke will be 23 years old before he plays his first NBA game, which is extremely old for a lottery prospect. He should be ready to contribute right away, but there are questions about how much growth is left in his game.

Clarke’s physical profile is what you’d expect to see from a wing, not a guy whose skill set best translates to the center position. Draymond Green is probably what teams want Clarke to turn into on the defensive end, but Green has a significant edge in wingspan (+5”) and standing reach (+4”).

Clarke is great when he can catch and finish and he can handle the ball in the open court relatively well, but he’s limited beyond that. He’s a poor jump shooter at this stage and has a very basic dribble drive game. Almost all of his offensive creation is two moves - a right handed floater off two feet and a spin to a right handed hook off a dribble to his left.

Overview

Clarke is the quintessential high floor, low ceiling player. He should be able to contribute right away and boost the defense of whatever team that drafts him, but there are questions about how much he can contribute on the offensive end and if there is much growth left in his game.