Former Louisville Cardinal Earl Clark is taking advantage of his increased playing time with the Los Angeles Lakers. Clark has seen limited minutes in his young 3-year career in the NBA, but has found himself in the starting rotation recently.
Clark impressed head coach Mike D’Antoni when he entered the rotation due to injuries suffered by Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill. His first attention getting performance was a 22 point and 13 rebound effort in just 28 minutes on January 9 against the Spurs. He has played solid basketball since.
In the month of November, Clark played a total of 9 minutes in a span of 14 games. In December, he played a total of 27 minutes in another 14 games. To put this in perspective, Clark played 40 minutes on Jan. 23 in a loss to Memphis. For the month of January, he has played 278 total minutes over 12 games; 27.7 per game.
Over the past 12 games, Clark is averaging 10.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. The production has brought his season average up to 5.7 points and 5.0 rebounds. He has 3 double-doubles on the season. The 6’10″ forward has also shown some range by knocking down 5 of 9 three-point attempts.
If Clark can continue to prove himself, the Lakers front office will have tough decisions to make. In July, he will become an unrestricted free agent. The first round draft pick in 2009 is making $1.2 million this season. With an aging Lakers team, the 25-year old Clark may be someone they want to keep and build around. If not, other teams will be interested and could mean more money.
Clark is teammates with former Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks. Meeks has seen the opposite of Clark. Meeks was averaging 26.5 minutes per game in December. In January, it has dropped to 13.2 minutes. On the season he is averaging 7.7 points and 0.9 assists. Meeks is making $1.5 million this year.