Memphis • His jump shot helped make him a high school star here. It helped land him the scholarship and, eventually, a spot on an NBA roster.
But as Ian Clark returned to his hometown this week, searching for minutes with the Utah Jazz, the rookie guard knows he needs to improve on the part of his game that’s always been there for him.
“It’s something I’ve tried to work on this season,” he said. “It’s been kind of tough because you always want to go back to old habits, where you’re comfortable.”
Watch Clark fire up a shot and you’ll notice it right away. It’s not the textbook form of a Ray Allen or Kyle Korver, a high release with a follow through that leaves the elbow well above the eye. Instead, Clark’s shot seems to start below his waist, and ends with a low release that extends out at eye level.
But while it’s unconventional, Clark’s stroke may not be fatal to his NBA aspirations.
“You look at a guy like Kevin Martin, who’s had a career with a low-release shot, and he’s a great scorer,” Jazz coach Ty Corbin said. “They find ways to get it off. The main thing is to get the ball in the hole.”
His senior season at Belmont, Clark shot better than 54 percent, hitting on nearly 46 percent of his 3-point attempts. The long ball got him noticed in summer league, where he earned MVP honors in Las Vegas with the Golden State Warriors’ squad.
Still, Corbin would like to see his rookie make an adjustment at some point.
“It’s tough during the season,” Corbin said. “… At some point you see if he can change it, get it up.”
Coaches have tried to change his shot before. But Clark believes the trick will be getting shots off quicker.
The key: “Getting your feet set quicker and just being down and ready to shoot earlier instead of standing straight up,” Clark said. “I have a problem with that sometimes. When the ball is swung to me, I’m dipping down instead of already being down when it hits my hands and being able to go straight up with it. … With my height, guys are going to try to run me off the 3-point line, so being able to get it off quickly is huge.”
Clark has seen action in 14 games with the Jazz this season, averaging 2.4 points in just under eight minutes an appearance. He’s hit on 17 of his 44 attempts, including 7 of 20 from 3-point range.
After being inactive for the Jazz’s first trip to Memphis, Clark was in uniform Thursday night before a hometown crowd. But with the Jazz making a comeback from 18 points down to tie the game late, the guard never saw the court.
Still, Corbin said he’s seen progress in the young shooter, who is working on his ball handling and trying to bulk up to better handle NBA defenders.
“He’s working and [learning] how to execute on the offensive end, coming off the down screen and getting to spots quickly,” Corbin said. “He’s a really good team guy. He’s in position for the most part.
Gms Min FG% FT% 3% Pts Reb Ast
14 7.7 38.6 60.0 35.0 3.1 0.9 0.6
Magic at Jazz
P Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV • ROOT