Memphis Grizzlies drafts Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke – sort of

Clarke's move to Memphis on hold until Conley trade finalized on July 6


The Memphis Grizzlies did not stand pat after getting Ja Morant with the No. 2 overall pick. Using Utah’s No. 23 pick obtained in the Mike Conley trade, the Grizzlies moved up two spots to select Brandon Clarke with the No. 21 pick in the 2019 NBA draft.

Clarke is a 6’8” junior from Gonzaga University. Because the Conley trade can’t be finalized until July 6, the Grizzlies are not allowed to comment.

Both Morant and Clarke entered college as unrated players, and both were first-round selections for the Grizzlies. It was reported that the Grizzlies gave up a 2024 second round pick to move up. The Grizzlies had two second-round picks in that draft.

Clarke averaged 16.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while also leading the nation in blocked shots with 117. Clarke also had the highest field goal percentage, shooting .687 from the field.

Clarke was one of five players in the NCAA Division I to average more than three blocks per game. Of the other four, only one played in a Power 5 conference. Clarke has a rare combination of a block rate over 10 percent (11.3 percent) and a steal percentage of over 2 percent (2.3 percent). He excels in help situations, often soaring for rejections when his teammates got beat off the dribble or in roll action.

Clarke was projected to go between 8 and 17 but fell to the Grizzlies. This was not due to anything that Clarke did. The main reason was due to the number of draft day trades that Clarke fell to this position. Clarke rose from an unranked player entering college to third team All-American by the Sporting News last season. Clarke was the second player from Gonzaga to be selected (Rui Hachimura 9th pick) in the first round.

Clarke should be available to play in the summer league this season for Memphis. Memphis will play in the Utah and the Las Vegas summer leagues in July. Morant will not play in the summer league this season.

Clarke was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and moved to Phoenix at the age of 3 and should complement the new young Grizzlies in Jaren Jackson Jr. and Morant.