Clarkson-Lin Duo Roll Into Minnesota


The Lakers play the Timberwolves on Wednesday night. The teams have split the season series, 1-1.

In a year with few intriguing sub-plots, Jordan Clarkson and Jeremy Lin as the Lakers starting backcourt, made an impression in their debut in Oklahoma City. Their 49 points, 14 assists, 60% shooting, 80% from three, outmatched all expectations. Obviously, their defense can’t keep pace with their offense, as the raw numbers suggested once the game had ended. The anticipated Clarkson-Lin duo, though scintillating with the ball,  gave up identical numbers. Russell Westbrook and Dion Waiters scored a combined 50 points on 58% shooting and 80% from three.

Brilliantly designed as “giving the young guys a chance”, the Lakers, on this road trip, are stacking the deck. A rookie who wasn’t drafted (Tarik Black), is their starting center. A confident Ryan Kelly, only if he is a stretch four, otherwise his head is all messed up, starts at power forward. For a little spice, Robert Sacre and Ed Davis will add a certain flavor but perception is not reality. A lack of skill, athleticism and more importantly physical toughness hovers over this core, making it impossible to win games without a 75 point backcourt scoring binge. So, there you have it. Tank, back on track. Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill, the collateral damage.

More from Lake Show Life

The Timberwolves are two and a half games ahead of the Lakers in the lottery. Their rookie, Andrew Wiggins, has developed at a similar rate and pace as Jordan Clarkson. With playing time and experience, Wiggins has improved over the long season, 16 points, 4 rebounds. He is your Rookie of the Year.

Zach LaVine, the Slam Dunk Champion athletic freak, dropped 27 points on the Jazz on Monday night. He’s another rookie who is figuring it out as he goes along and yes, the Lakers could have had combo guard LaVine at #7. Wiggins and LaVine are the Timberwolves bright spots, a couple of athletic but inexperienced players the Timberwolves are counting on to take a few steps forward and a lot of steps back. That’s how you stay in the lottery for a decade.

The last time the Lakers played the Timberwolves in Minnesota, the moment was historic. Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list. Three months have passed since then and the Lakers have won 10 games.

It keeps getting worse for the organization. just rated the Lakers front office as third worst in the NBA. The Timberwolves are ranked 24th, one spot up from last year, based solely on their star player acting as a G.M. It was Kevin Love and not the Wolves front office that made the Andrew Wiggins deal possible so the Wolves get zero credit for that. But, they did snag LaVine at #13.

In the lottery 9 out of the last 10 years, this has been the Wolves haul: Rashard McCants (2005), Brandon Roy (2006), Corey Brewer (2007), O.J. Mayo (2008), Ricky Rubio, Johnny Flynn (2009), Wesley Johnson (2010), Derrick Williams (2011), Trey Burke (2013), Zach LaVine (2014).

Systemically, the Wolves talent evaluation is broken. Rashard McCants and Johnny Flynn never made it to a second contract. Brandon Roy was traded on draft night. Corey Brewer is a nice defender but not lottery pick talent; he was traded. As was Wesley Johnson, O.J. Mayo, Derrick Williams and Trey Burke. Only Ricky Rubio has survived it all and he has yet to deliver on his promise.

The Timberwolves are a cautionary tale. They are the example of who the Lakers don’t want to be, (a 10 year playoff drought), even if these past two seasons the Lakers are copying them. The Lakers have evolved into the Timberwolves West.

Next: 2015 NBA Draft: Pre-Sweet 16 Mock Draft