Ian Clark: Time for Extended Minutes


One of the things on the Golden State Warriors’ wishlist during the offseason was another shooter that they could have on the second unit. Despite having one of the best benches in the league last season, the Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr was forced to leave either one of the Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson on the court when the second unit was called in. This was to help create space for the offense to flow, and to ensure that there wasn’t too much of a drop off in offensive production.

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After giving training camp invites to a few potential recruits, the Warriors settled on Ian Clark – formerly with the Warriors’ D-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors. Clark, theoretically, would be the Warriors’ 15th man, and would bounce between the D-League and the NBA, filling in when the Warriors needed a spare body.

In the first 12 games of the season, Clark has seen playing time in eight games, but has only played more than ten minutes just once. His best game came when the Warriors blew out the Memphis Grizzlies by 50 points – Clark scored 15 points in 12 minutes of play, making all four of his field goal attempts. But aside from that game, Clark’s playing time has fluctuated drastically, ranging from thirty seconds to nine minutes.

The real surprise here is the Warriors’ unwillingness to play Clark more minutes. Interim head coach Luke Walton has been heavier with his starters’ minutes distribution, and isn’t as willing as coach Kerr when it comes to spreading the rotation.

Clark is the remedy to the Warriors’ bench shooting woes. In the Warriors’ typical second unit of Leandro Barbosa, Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights, and Festus Ezeli, there isn’t a lot of shooting on the floor. Of that group, only Iguodala is shooting above 35 percent – and Iggy is averaging 33.4 percent from behind the arc for his career.

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For comparison, Clark is currently shooting 40 percent from three (from ten attempts). The sample size may be small, but this is what the Warriors brought him in to do. Last night, against the Toronto Raptors, the Warriors’ second unit’s offense wasn’t able to flow as well as intended due to the lack of spacing when Clark wasn’t on the floor. With Livingston out, they needed more floor spacing to ease into their offense, and it nearly cost them the win.

Clark is a good fit for the Warriors’ system – he knows his limitations, plays within himself, works hard on the defensive end, and fits within their pace-and-space ethos. Perhaps we’ll see more of Clark when Kerr returns to the court and he starts resting his starters more liberally. But until then, Clark’s shooting is the key to fixing the Warriors’ bench unit offense.