Clarkson

To say the Los Angeles Lakers are having a terrible season is quite the understatement.  Kobe Bryant was once again lost for the season, and the team has been stuck in a conundrum between winning for pride and protecting the brand against losing and keeping their pick for the upcoming NBA draft.

However, one silver lining is the continued development of unheralded rookie Jordan Clarkson.

Coming into the season, not much was expected from the Lakers.  Though I thought the team, if healthy and gelling was talented enough to make the post-season, everyone outside of Laker Nation did not.

One bright spot that everyone agreed to look out for was the development of Julius Randle.  As the Lakers’ highest draft pick since the team picked James Worthy in 1982, much was expected of the rookie out of Kentucky.

Clarkson, on the other hand, came to the Lakers as a virtual unknown to the casual fan.  He was picked 46th by the Washington Wizards then later traded to the LA later that night.  Radio host Steve Mason of ESPN LA 710 even ribbed him after playing a clip of his first interview after he was drafted for having no enthusiasm and energy in his voice.  It was a mystery if he’d even make the team.  The one thing he had going for him was that he was Filipino-American.

It was a roller-coaster start.  The aggressive guard could not find significant playing time with the Lakers and was sent down to their D-League affiliate, the D-Fenders, for certain stretches.  He was averaging less than 15 minutes a game and was behind Ronnie Price and Jeremy Lin in the rotation.

However, injuries and a losing season has allowed coach Byron Scott to shuffle his rotation a little bit much to the benefit of Clarkson.

Clarkson has started and played in each of the last 13 games for the team, and it has worked wonders for the youngster, averaging 13.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 29.3 minutes.

In that run, he’s scored 17 or more six times, including a career-high 22 points in a 100-97 over the Utah Jazz that included a dunk on lottery pick Dante Exum that made the SportsCenter Top 10.

Clarkson has even sought out the help of Steve Nash during the All-Star break to work on his fundamentals.  It’s too bad Nash hasn’t been around more.  Being able to pick the brain of a Hall-of-Fame point guard would’ve been the perfect scenario but fortunately for the Clarkson and the Lakers, Nash has finally returned after time away from the team to become a mentor of sorts to the rookie.

Despite this, the flashes of brilliance that the youngster has shown proved why the Lakers were “reluctant” to include him in trade offers before the deadline.  The team has shown that they believe in him, and he’ll only get better with hard work, determination, and more experience.

It’s been a tough season.  But the development of Clarkson has been the lone bright spot that could, along with the return of Randle, be building blocks for the Lakers’ future.

 

The future is bright for Clarkson & Lakers

 

 

About The Author

NBA & MLS writer for Game 7 Network. Former host of The Half Court Heave Podcast, and was a writer for Laker Nation. LA-born, Philippine-raised, Las Vegas-living.

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