Lakers: Young Backcourt of Clarkson, Ellington, and Lin Show Promise


If the season is lost, then the Lakers can focus on developing within. Jordan Clarkson went through a tough regiment after the draft. During the Vegas Pro League, he was their best player.  After the Vegas Pro League, he played in another tournament. After the tournament, he still took coaching to work on his isolation game.

Some of his tricks came out to start the game.  He started with three floaters in the paint and three steals.  A baseline three-pointer got him going quickly.  His aggressive, attacking style took Elfrid Payton out of his rhythm, and it was clear who was winning the matchup early.

Jordan Clarkson finished with 14 points on 6 of 14 shooting from the field, 6 assists, and 4 steals.  He had started the game 6 of 8 from the field.

Jeremy Lin came out aggressive as well. Usually, he’ll start off slow to try and get a feel for the game. That did not pay off for him earlier in the season. If there’s one thing he learned from Kobe Bryant, it’s that his aggression can help dictate the flow of the game. He started off hot himself, hitting high-arching midrange jumpers and back-to-back three-pointers on the right corner wing. While it seemed that playmaking was an afterthought, he did seek out players in the paint. They just couldn’t convert.  Lin finished with 14 points on 6 of 8 shooting from the field, 2 of 2 behind the arc.  

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Wayne Ellington started off hot behind the arc making a couple of tough, contested three-point shots. It was clear that Ellington was a point of emphasis defensively for Orlando.  The Orlando Magic hedged every hand off for Ellington, forcing him to try and create off-the-dribble. He struggled for the rest of the game.

The Lakers lost the game against the Orlando Magic, largely in part to the play in the second half.  Ellington couldn’t adjust to the hard hedges. Jordan Clarkson lost the bounce to his step in the second half. Worst of all, Clarkson showed erratic decision-making at the end of the game. One possession led to a complete dribble out of the 24 second shot clock for a bad miss.  Another was a poorly executed last play of the game.

Still, we need to keep in mind that this is a backcourt of one first-round pick, one second-round pick, and one undrafted player.  These are the guys that went up against to lottery picks full of athleticism and talent in Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton.  It’s a testament to how far they have come in their NBA careers, and how far they have left to go.

Jordan Clarkson can refine his conditioning and late-game playmaking. Lin can continually come out with that aggression. Ellington can adapt around that hedge and follow through with a cut to the hoop without the hand off.

These are small adjustments.  Once they are learned, they can go far.

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