Los Angeles

The Rise of Lakers Rookie Jordan Clarkson

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The last several seasons have been disasters for the Los Angeles Lakers. With Kobe Bryant, possibly the greatest Laker of all-time going down with an Achilles tear in 2013, Dwight Howard leaving, and Pau Gasol signing with the Bulls, the Lakers had little rays of hope of being a contender. The Lakers were able to acquire the 7th overall pick in the 2014 draft and drafted Julius Randle out of Kentucky, a rookie in college basketball who averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per contest. Then, there is Jordan Clarkson, who was the 46th overall pick, drafted by the Wizards and then traded to the Lakers. With Kobe Bryant getting injured and Julius Randle only playing two minutes in his first pro game before breaking his leg, the Lakers haven’t had much to cheer for.

Jordan Clarkson played three years of college basketball, two being at Tulsa and the last being a Missouri. Clarkson was no slouch in college, averaging 15.4 points per contest. With a draft full of potential franchise changing players, Clarkson was overlooked for one reason and one reason only in my opinion. In his final seven games in college, he failed to score 15 points. You had guys like Marcus Smart, Elfrid Payton and the popular Dante Exum, who, by the way, has had an awful rookie year. If Clarkson had shown more consistency in his last days of college, he would’ve been a for sure top 20 pick, but GM’s and scouts knocked his game because of his inconsistent jump shot, his tendency to turn the ball over too much, and him being older than most players drafted, as he is 22 years old. Exum was just 18 when drafted, and GM’s want young players.

I feel at this point, the Lakers got the best point guard in the entire draft. The Lakers acquired Clarkson for cash considerations…CASH. While I cannot find the specific amount, the Wizards had no need for a 22 year old point guard who most consider to be under-developed. Since the All-Star break, Clarkson has certainly proven the critics wrong, averaging 15.7 PPG, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Clarkson has been the only positive, in a season where the Lakers currently have the 4th worst record in the league, at 19-52. The Lakers have been in DESPERATE need of an athletic young point guard to push the ball up the floor. Clarkson has been showing the world that he’s more than capable of either getting to the basket or setting up his teammates for good shots.

Now, I am going to make a comparison and while I will not say he’s the next Damian Lillard, the numbers on found on an article on sbnation.com don’t lie. Again, Damian Lillard is a tremendous point guard who is an elite player. I looked at the stats for both per 36 minutes which people will say are inflated, but just keep an open mind. So, per 36 minutes, Damian Lillard averaged 17.8 ppg, 2.9 rebounds and 6.0 assists. Clarkson, has averaged 16.4 ppg, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Clarkson is far from being an elite player at this point, but I stand firm on my opinion because he’s had success against Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Ty Lawson and Deron Williams.
Clarkson has proven he can not only play at this level, but he can play with the best guards in the league. At 6’5, he could, if he wanted, make the switch and play at the shooting guard spot, but he would need to put on a little more muscle.

Have the Lakers found one of their future starting backcourt players? I think they have. It will be up to the Lakers front office and the coaching staff to allow him to build on the success he has had this season and let it carry over into a bigger role for next season and the foreseeable future.

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