Just as I finished a column two weeks ago talking about the Heat’s options for point guard next next season, I watched as out of nowhere a 6-3 guard from Belmont who hadn’t played point guard since high school take over for the Miami Heat Summer League squad in Orlando.
Ian Clark averaged 18.2 points and 1.6 steals as a shooting guard during his senior season for the Belmont Bruins. His team went 26-7 and landed an #11 seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Unfortunately for Clark, and Belmont, they were ousted by 17 by Solomon Hill and the Arizona Wildcats in the first round. Clark, however, played a great game with 21 points and 2 steals in the loss.
Clark went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft, and then agreed to suit up for Miami’s Summer League Team in Orlando and Golden State’s team in Las Vegas.
While we all watched with anticipation for the highlight plays for Myck Kabongo, James Ennis, and Jarvis Varnado, it was Ian Clark that led the Miami Heat in scoring against Trey Burke and the Utah Jazz in the Heat’s first Summer League game.
Clark had 15 points, 9 of which came from 3 three-pointers, in just 16 minutes as the backup for Kabongo. He was also just one of two players (D. Dedmon) that had a positive +/- stat in the 59-69 loss to the Jazz.
In game two, Clark was now starting at point and put up 19 points, 3 threes, in 32 minutes on the court in a 93-86 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Although Ennis stole the show in game three against the Orlando Magic, Clark was solid again scoring 15 points in 29 minutes as the captain of the Heat offense.
Enter game four. Detroit Pistons. End of a long week. Who’s going to show up? Ian Clark. He was tremendous in the Heat’s 90-85 win over team from Motor City with 18 points, 7 assists and 6 steals!
Clark finished the week sixth in scoring at 16.4 points per game in 28 minutes of action. He also averaged 2.2 steals per game. Can his success be blown out of proportion due to the fact that this is simply the Orlando Summer League.
Sure. There’s no Chris Paul, Tony Parker, or Russell Westbrook on the other team to guard, no Dwight Howard to keep you out of the paint, and no defenses as well prepared as they are in the NBA.
Still, what he brings to the table as a point guard fits for what the Miami Heat need in a point guard. Take a look at Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole last season.
Mario Chalmers: 8.6 PPG, 3.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, 41% 3PT
Norris Cole: 5.6 PPG, 2.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, 36% 3PT (53% during post-season)
What both players bring is shooting from three to go along with a low turnover rate. They can handle the ball well. While neither are elite defenders, they aren’t a liability on the defensive end. Both get steals. Neither has notably high assist numbers. These stats point to a point guard who can play well off the ball with a three in Lebron James and a two in Dwayne Wade bringing the ball up the floor during parts of games. And unlike Kabongo or Larry Drew II, Ian Clark plays more like Chalmers and Cole. He shoots the ball, doesn’t control the ball on the offensive end, and can play some defense (6 steals against Detroit).
Will Clark stay with Miami for the 2013-2014 season? That remains to be seen. It is highly unlikely that Clark will make the Miami Heat, but if the Heat can land him on their D-League squad for this season, perhaps he can be ready to fill Chalmers shoes when free agency hits in 2014-2015.
How’s Clark doing in Las Vegas?
In games he’s played more than twenty minutes (2), he’s had three threes both games and scored 13 and 14 points respectively while shooting 43% from behind the arc.
Keep shooting kid.