Brandon Clarke: Defense
Our scouting grades represent the composite opinion of at least three different scouts. Each category is graded based on how we view a player’s current ability level relative to NBA players at the same position (guard, wing, forward or big). A grade of 1 indicates replacement level, a grade of 5 indicates NBA average, and a grade of 10 indicates historically elite. Our composite scouting notes help provide context for our grades.
Clarke does a decent job staying in front of bigger guards and wings. His biggest weakness on-ball is having to deal with post players. Girthier players such as Tennessee’s Grant Williams or Loyola Marymount’s Eli Scott gave him trouble in the post and were able to establish good position for high-percentage looks when Clarke guarded them. This may be a larger problem for him in the NBA especially if he is ever tasked with playing small-ball center due to his lack of a reliable outside shot at the moment.
Clarke is constantly engaged in the play whether or not he is guarding the ball. He demonstrates a solid understanding of angles whether it is to deny his man a pass for a post-up or help without giving up a passing angle to his man. Couple this with his whip-smart anticipation and bouncy physical tools and you have one of the best off-ball defenders in the draft.
This is the crown jewel of Clarke’s defensive attributes. While he does a number of things that will please scouts, he is no better than when providing help defense, He is always looking to make out-of-area plays and does not differentiate his teammate getting beat from him getting beat. That unselfish nature and his quick instincts have propelled him to become a tremendous help defender at the college level.
Clarke can switch onto multiple types of players, with the main exceptions being center-sized post threats and guards with a quick first step. Clarke has decent lateral quickness but is by no means exceptional in this area, and so he could be blown by when switched onto primary initiator types. When switched onto most guards, he does a good job of staying back and using his length to contest if they pull-up.
High impact plays
Clarke’s ability to make impact plays on the defensive end are the cherry on top of the defensive sundae. Once he makes the right reads and rotates properly he is good at using the proper technique to block without fouling or rip the ball loose. He surprises the offense with some of his blocks due to his ability to quickly leap for the ball.