Brandon Clarke tallied 15 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 95-92 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves in the title game of the NBA Summer League on Monday night.
The performance earned Clarke championship game MVP honors to go along with having already been named the overall MVP for the league.
Clarke, Allen Lead Grizzlies to Title
The Grizzlies put an end to what had been a perfect summer league run for the Timberwolves, who were 6-0 heading into the title game.
Clarke, who was the No. 21 pick in the NBA Draft this June, had averaged 14.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game heading into the championship game. The rookie out of Gonzaga credited playing under head coach Taylor Jenkins – the only NBA head coach who also took the reins of their summer league squad – for his success with Memphis.
“I feel like I’ll just fit in perfectly because his system and his culture is similar to what it was like at college at Gonzaga,” Clarke told reporters after the game. “It was just really fun playing for him. He was just a really great coach. Every day he was up to play hard and up to get us better.”
The Grizzlies also got a big performance out of another No. 21 overall draft pick: former Duke standout Grayson Allen, who was drafted in 2018, then traded from Utah to Memphis. Allen, whose most notable highlight in the summer league thus far had been getting ejected from a game earlier in the tournament, led the Grizzlies with 17 points in the championship game.
“He’s played in lots of big games, he’s just somebody that’s used to making those bid shots,” Clarke said of his teammate. “Adding him to the team is something that’s gonna be really big for us.”
The Timberwolves made several runs in the second half to keep the game close, but were never able to steal away the lead from the Grizzlies, who jumped out to a 56-40 lead at halftime. Minnesota was led by Kelan Martin, who scored a game-high 19 points, while Barry Brown Jr. added 12 points in 21 minutes of action.
Clarke Leads Summer League Standouts
Neither Memphis nor the Timberwolves came into Las Vegas as favorites to hoist the trophy. The Timberwolves were a 20/1 pick before the league began, according to Caesars Entertainment, while the Grizzlies opened at 30/1. The New York Knicks (8/1) entered as the top choice to win the summer league, but lost their first three games before posting two wins to wrap up their schedule.
Clarke wasn’t the only player who impressed during the NBA Summer League. Joining him on the all-league first team were Nickeil Alexander-Walker from the Pelicans, Jarrett Allen from the Nets, Kendrick Nunn from the Heat, and Mitchell Robinson from the Knicks.
Historically, NBA Summer League results don’t have much of a correlation with what happens in the regular season: after all, summer league teams are filled with rookies, young players looking to get some game time, and undrafted talent hoping to find roster spots in the league. The Los Angeles Clippers (+320) are the favorites to win the NBA Championship according to FanDuel Sportsbook, while the Grizzlies are a 250/1 longshot to bring home that title.