The reviews for Jordan Clarkson in this year’s Summer League action were off the charts for the Los Angeles Lakers. What the Lakers brass has seen from him in the preseason should be an encouraging sign that he will be in the organization for a long time.
Point guard has always been a position where the Lakers have struggled. They were long anchored by now New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher during the title runs in the late 2000s. Since then, they’ve had names such as Ramon Sessions, Darius Morris, and Chris Duhon.With the modern day leading guards becoming physically imposing, Los Angeles must adapt. It’s been quite some time that they have been able to secure a capable backcourt player with his athleticism and aggression. To sweeten the pot, Los Angeles was able to acquire Clarkson late in the second round at the 46th pick. On Thursday, Los Angeles received the abrupt news of veteran point guard Steve Nash being out for the year.
With the injury opening up the need for immediate playing time, Clarkson can fall right into this role. Despite his rookie status, it’s best that the Lakers mold Clarkson, and continue building cohesion with their roster.
As discussed earlier, the aggression that Clarkson is showing early on proves his confidence is budding. The NBA speed looks to be something that Clarkson thrives in, and finds his spots. In his first game against the Denver Nuggets, he was not shy at all in getting his shots.
Clarkson led the Lakers in scoring with 14 points, and is averaging nine points in just three appearances. Clarkson was sidelined with a calf injury for four games.
Totaling 25 shots so far in preseason, Clarkson loves being the focal point of the offense. While high volume scoring can kill a player’s shooting percentage (25 percent for Clarkson), the Lakers need a guard willing to bring scoring dynamics to their bench while Nick Young recovers.
The best thing is that most of his shots weren’t ill-advised, but open jumpers and interior finishes. As the season progresses, Clarkson will start to nail those attempts and continue his style of play.
Byron Scott will also rely on him to initiate the offense, as he showed abilities during the summer that he is capable of doing so. He may not bring the playmaking and IQ that Nash provides, but his physical attributes will allow him some favorable matchups.
The Lakers may also play him alongside Jeremy Lin, as Ronnie Price has been the starter over the last four games. Clarkson is comfortable at both spots in the backcourt. He may fare better allowing a creator like Lin set him up on the offensive end.
Along with Clarkson, fellow rookie Julius Randle could help them establish quite a duo. Both players have similar roles, centered on scoring the ball and defending versatile opponents. As they make up the second unit, plenty sets will involve the two having the ball in their hands.
In Clarkson’s return on Tuesday against the Portland Trail Blazers, the two executed on a no-look pass from Randle leading to a Clarkson floater. The play was an indication of things to come for the Lakers two draftees.
The biggest thing for Clarkson is going to lie in seizing this moment. Minutes are his for the taking, and he has gotten Byron Scott’s trust on the floor. Many fans expect his impact to be immediate, and as the season begins next week, he has a chance to prove it is. A productive season could also lead to solidifying his name in the crop of talented NBA point guards.