LAS VEGAS — The Grizzlies’ Yuta Watanabe knifed into the lane and drew a second defender, which left John Konchar open on the right wing.
Konchar cut toward the basket unguarded and took a pass from Watanabe.
The Clippers’ defense then collapsed on Konchar as he bounced the ball one time and barreled toward the basket.
It looked like Konchar might elevate for a contested layup. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Konchar shoveled a pass to his left.
Left all alone amid the flurry of passes and cuts? Brandon Clarke.
One-minute and 56 seconds into his first game wearing a Grizzlies uniform, Clarke took flight.
The 6-foot-8 forward from Gonzaga waited a long time to finally – officially – be a member of the Grizzlies, and he made a loud introduction in an 87-75 summer league victory over the Clippers on Sunday night at the Thomas and Mack Center.
As Clarke took Konchar’s pass and planted with two feet, Clarke’s teammates on the bench and the baseline stood in unison.
This was their first game together, but Clarke’s reputation as an elite athlete preceded him.
The rim popped as Clarke completed a violent dunk – the first of several flushes in a 17-point, 17-minute debut.
“I can do plays like that always,” Clarke said.
Rookie point guard Ja Morant popped up from his seat on the baseline and nearly waltzed onto the court as he clapped and flexed his muscles after Clarke’s first flush.
After another rim-rocking dunk by the No. 21 overall pick a few possessions later, first-year coach Taylor Jenkins looked down at Jaren Jackson Jr., who was seated on the baseline.
Jenkins raised his eyebrows and flashed an ear-to-ear grin as the Clippers called timeout with the Grizzlies leading 11-0.
“I think I was also smiling because of the pass that was made,” Jenkins said.
There was plenty to smile about as the Grizzlies improved to 2-0 in the Las Vegas league, but Clarke’s athleticism and the visions of how it might mesh with the cornerstone tandem of Morant and Jackson topped the list Sunday.
“It was a great debut,” Jenkins said.
Clarke added four rebounds and two blocks to his line and also hit his only 3-point attempt.
He officially became a member of the Grizzlies over the weekend as the NBA processed the draft-day trade that allowed Memphis to select him No. 21 overall.
For a player who started his college career at San Jose State after being unranked by most major recruiting services, Sunday ranked among the top moments of Clarke’s career, he said.
“I would probably say really high, actually,” Clarke said. “Playing here is something I’ve been working toward forever. For it to be here now, it’s a really good start, and I’m just looking forward to getting some more of those moments.”
As ESPN analyst Doris Burke said on the broadcast, “Brandon Clarke is going to out-jump a lot of people.”
Reach Grizzlies beat writer David Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DavidWCobb.