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Warriors Season review: Ian Clark

The Warriors needed Ian Clark to step into a larger role in 2016-17 and did he ever deliver. With career highs across the board, Clark gave the Warriors a potent scorer off the bench and a great personality in the locker room. The only down side is that other teams appear to have noticed as Clark heads to free agency.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Phoenix Suns
Ian Clark stepped up his game in 2016-17
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Warriors fans couldn’t have wished for anything more out of Ian Clark’s second year with the team. Clark contributed to the team’s success not only with consistent scoring, but also with a camaraderie that made the season even more enjoyable for his teammates. On the brink of free agency, let’s take a look at Clark’s season before other teams try to steal him away from the Bay.

I is for Improvement

Whatever Clark did to train over the summer of 2016, it sure worked. Clark enjoyed career highs this season in minutes (14.8), points (6.8), shooting percentage (49%), rebounds (1.6), assists (1.2), and steals (0.5). He showed remarkable growth as he accepted a larger role after Leandro Barbosa’s departure last summer.

Clark’s confidence soared as he saw more regular minutes this year, culminating in a career high 36 points in the game of resting stars against the Spurs late in the season. Watch Clark’s scoring from that night in this clip and you’ll agree that the man can flat out score the basketball in a variety of ways.

In addition to a sweet three-point shot, Clark dazzles with shots on the move. Not only is he able to nail quick runners driving to the rim, but he has also become adept at sneaking in layups off of swift back cuts in the Warriors’ system. If you’re looking for a scoring punch off the bench, Clark is your guy.

Of course, while Clark exceeded expectations on offense, he still has room for improvement on defense. He’s not really known as a strong defender on the ball, though he has the quickness to improve in that area.

Coach Steve Kerr decided to play Patrick McCaw instead of Ian Clark in Game 5 of the Finals this year for the sake of the defense. Clark just doesn’t have the size to fit with the switching scheme Golden State uses as well as the taller McCaw.

But on the whole, Clark rocked the 2016-17 season on the court. He proved that he belongs in the league and it will be fun to see him continue to improve his game in the years ahead.

A is for Amiable

Dubs fans weren’t the only one’s cheering on Clark’s success this year. Clark formed a great rapport with his teammates, reportedly making him a locker room favorite.

One of the great visuals of the season was from Clark’s 22 point performance in a November beat down of that laughingstock from Los Angeles. After sinking his fifth three-pointer in five attempts, Kevin Durant and Clark broke into ridiculous “come here” gestures in jovial celebration. Man, that game was great.

And who didn’t love the variety of sports reenactments between Clark and Stephen Curry during warm-ups all year? Their antics even inspired an impersonation by Brandon Armstrong.

But the most poignant example of the bond that Clark built with his teammates came from his jersey retirement at Germantown High School in Tennessee. Check out the number of players willing to go to Clark’s old high school on a night off (and how they all wore either black or grey for some reason). That’s an impressive display of support and dedication. How many people can say that two MVPs and a DPOY attended their high school jersey retirement?

Clark hasn’t been with Golden State all that long, but he’s clearly made an impact on and off the court. Coach Kerr always emphasizes playing with joy and Ian Clark seemed to bring that to the team every night. And that’s what makes it tough to see him likely heading to another team in July.

N is for Not Coming Back

Clark’s contract, like many Warriors last season, was for about as little money as was allowed under the collective bargaining agreement. Word on the street is that other teams are hoping to sign Clark for much more than the league minimum and the Warriors will not be in a position to match those offers.

The “experts” expect that Clark will be offered something like $6-8 million per season by other teams. With the limited amount of cap space available to Golden State, the Warriors will place a higher priority on saving enough money to re-sign Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. Unless Clark is willing to settle for substantially less to stay with the Warriors, it’s likely that he’s leaving with a larger wallet.

Thank you, Ian

Clark has been fun to watch and should be remembered as a valuable contributor to this season. If he has to leave, it’s nice to see him go out on top. He’ll no doubt get a lot of love from Dub Nation whenever he plays in the Bay, where we’ll remember him as a scorer, a joker, a great teammate, and, of course, a champion.


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