Breaking down the Orlando Magic: Earl Clark

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For three weeks, the Orlando Sentinel is going through the Orlando Magic alphabetically, evaluating players, as well as coach Stan Van Gundy and General Manager Otis Smith, and assigning them grades for 2010-11.

EARL CLARK

Power forward

Age: 23

Years with Magic/NBA: 1/2.

2010-11 regular-season stats (w/Orlando only): 33 G, 11.9 mpg, .441 fg%, .000 3p%, .595 ft%, 2.5 rpg, 4.1 ppg

2010-11 advanced regular-season stats (w/Orlando only)#: .468 ts%, .441 efg%, 12.5 trb%, 91 oftg, 102 drtg

2011 postseason stats: 1 G, 6.0 mpg, .333 fg%, N/A 3p%, N/A ft%, 4.0 rpg, 2.0 ppg

2011 advanced postseason stats: .333 ts%, .333 efg%, 39.6 trb%, 112 oftg, 68 drtg

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent.

Praise: Clark seemed like nothing more than a fill-in in the mid-December trade that brought him, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu from the Phoenix Suns for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, a 2011 first-round draft pick and cash. In a sense, he was little more than a fill-in. Clark never gained a regular spot in the Magic's rotation. That said, Magic coaches liked his work ethic and raved about his potential as a defensive stopper. Clark's quick feet, height, long arms and overall athletic ability enable him to defend agile power forwards and guard bigger small forwards. Indeed, Clark enjoyed his best moment with the Magic on Feb. 25, when he spent some time guarding eventual scoring champ Kevin Durant one-on-one and helped hold Durant to 23 points on 7-of-22 shooting in a 111-88 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Your vote: Grade Earl Clark's season with the Magic

Constructive criticism: For all of his defensive potential, Clark still couldn't crack the Magic's veteran-laden rotation and wasn't a factor in the playoffs. Whether coaches should've played him is a matter of debate, but he faced the same daunting learning curve that power forwards Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass faced when they joined the team a year earlier. Unlike Anderson and Bass, however, Clark didn't have the benefit of spending an offseason or training camp with the Magic. No wonder Clark struggled at times to learn the team's defensive principles and rotations. Clark added some bulk to his lanky 6-foot-10 frame when he started working with the Magic's strength and conditioning coaches, but he needs to add more. Also, his midrange jumper, which shows promise in pregame shooting sessions, needs to become more consistent in games. Still, Van Gundy believes Clark's potential on defense is "unlimited" if he learns the system and commits to being a force on defense.

2010-11 grade*: B-

The future: Clark has expressed an interest in returning to the Magic, and team officials probably would like to see him return — at the right price, that is. Given his relatively little playing time during his first two seasons in the league, Clark might not command more than a minimum-salary deal. If that indeed is the case, then he could return to the Magic for the 2011-12 season.

#All advanced statistics come from Basketball-Reference.com. Here's what they mean:

ts%: True shooting percentage, a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account 2-point field goals, 3-point field goals and free throws.

efg%: Effective field-goal percentage, which adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal.

trb%: Total rebound percentage, an estimate of available rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor.

oftg: Offensive rating, an estimate of points produced per 100 possessions.

drtg: Defensive rating, an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions.

*grades evaluate how a person did in his expected role.

jbrobbins@tribune.com. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog. Subscribe to our Orlando Magic newsletter at OrlandoSentinel.com/joinus.

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