Quick, name the last Lakers rookie that caused reasonable excitement. I’ll give you a moment.
No, Ryan Kelly doesn’t count.
Javaris Crittenton? Meh. Jordan Farmar? Only because he was a hometown kid. There wasn’t excitement around the Andrew Bynum pick. To truly find the level of excitement Lakers fans have over Julius Randle (and after the Summer League, Jordan Clarkson), you’d have to go back likely to 1996, when Kobe Bryant was brought to LA in a draft day trade.
No pressure, boys.
Certainly, we can’t and shouldn’t compare these two in any way to Bryant, but you see how deprived Lakers fans have been of good, young talent. But from a hype standpoint, these two are setting the bar after over a decade nearly devoid of true, young talent out of the gate.
Clarkson has grabbed his chance by the horns. Drafted in the middle of the second round, Clarkson’s spot on the team wasn’t necessarily guaranteed, but his performance has done just that. In the three games so far this summer, Clarkson leads the team in points (18.7), second in rebounds (4.3), and is shooting 44% from the field.
Randle did not get the opportunity to play in game one, but certainly has not been any less impressive. Over his two games, he’s show a mixture of strength and ball-handling that has left fans excited for the future.
Excited for the future.
It’s an odd feeling for the Lakers to be excited about prospects. We may have been excited for a possible future with Dwight Howard last year. We may have been excited about the possibilities of this summer prior to it’s occurrence. But no rookie has brought this level of excitement since the Black Mamba himself.
The duo will likely take their bumps and bruises this year. The Lakers will struggle this year, but these two will offer a bright light in a likely dark season. They’ve given Lakers fans enough excitement this Summer League, between Randle’s bullish style and Clarkson’s high speed attack.
Get excited, Lakers fans. You’ve waited long enough.