Jaylen Clark had a breakout junior season before injuring his achilles at the end of the season, earning both All-PAC-12 honors and All-Defense in the PAC-12, on top of being the PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year. As a breakout junior, Clark averaged 13 PPG, 6 RPG, 1.9 APG, 2.6 SPG, 0.3 SPG, and 1.2 TOPG on splits of 48/33/70. Below is his full scouting report:
Name: Jaylen Clark
Wingspan/ standing reach: 6’4/8’5 ½
Hand size: 9
Pre-Draft team: UCLA
Tools: Defense, length, cutting
- Good finisher at the rim
- Smart cutter
- Tough defender that can guard multiple positions
- Good rebounder
- Excellent in transition
- Forces lots of turnovers
- Comfortable driving left
- Good motor
- Long arms
- A bit of a tweener
- Needs to prove shooting consistency
- Needs to speed up his jumper to shoot over long closeouts
- Must improve on-ball-skills
- Had a bad Achilles injury to end the year
- Doesn’t have many finishing moves in his package; relies on baby hooks often which won’t work in the NBA
Overall, Jaylen Clark is a bit of a tweener given his size, underwhelming shooting, minimal creation, and questionable scaling up of his defense to be able to truly be versatile enough to maximize his defensive abilities, especially coming off of an Achilles injury.
Since Clark does not create much of his own offense, he will have to become a positive play-finisher to stick offensively in the NBA. With poor shooting indicators, this is automatically an uphill battle for him. As a junior, Clark shot 33% on catch & shoot 3 point attempts and 27% on off the dribble jumpers. When crunched to the halfcourt numbers only, the catch & shoot numbers go down to 28.8% from 3, and his off the dribble shooting numbers remain unchanged. Although he is a good cutter, teams did not sag off of him at UCLA, which will likely not be the case in the NBA, which will reduce his cutting, and thus finishing ability at the rim.
Defensively, Clark’s footspeed, length and footwork he had pre-injury/in-season were impressive to stay with both quicker and stronger ball-handlers than him, but still winning possessions. He also has versatility on the defensive end, being able to easily defend both guard slots as well as wings and small forwards. At 6’4, how he defends forwards like he did in college will be a big swing skill in translating up at the next level.
Defense will absolutely be Clark’s calling card, and if he can map a career out similar to David Nwaba, who also had an Achilles injury as a lockdown defender, Clark will be a quality undrafted free agent addition or end-of-draft addition to a team needing defense. The obstacle with Clark will be how he uses his tweener height at 6’4 without shoes to his advantage, while not being much of a shooter or scorer.
Similar to: Isaac Okoro, David Nwaba, Josh Okogie
Projected draft range: 45-undrafted
Expected role: Defender with transition scoring ability
Unplayable if: Lack of size + ball-skills and a consistent jumper make his game difficult to translate up.
Exceeds expectations if: He thrives in an off-ball role, continues developing his ball-skills as a late bloomer, and his defense scales up.