Jordan Clarkson The Starting Point Guard Of The Future?


Admittedly, the feeling that washed over me as Jordan Clarkson‘s lay-up fell through against Philadelphia in the waning moments of overtime was not a sense of excitement for a rookie grabbing his first game-winner, but a feeling of frustration. Like many Laker fans, my eyes were set on the #TankRank and the importance of losing a game like this.

But in the hours following the game, the sense of what Clarkson accomplished in the game and is accomplishing this season really start to set in. His 26-point, 11-rebound, 6-assist performance put him in elite company that not even Kobe Bryant is apart of.

Watching Clarkson in the Summer League, fans knew the Lakers had found a hidden gem, but no one could have expected his development and subsequent high level of play this season. We watched him hit a game-winner against the Warriors in Las Vegas, but we certainly didn’t expect that to be replicated in late March in an NBA game against the 76ers.

However, Clarkson has been shattering expectations all season. From the start of the season through January 21, Clarkson played in just 21 games, had 0 starts, and averaged just 12.2 minutes. In that limited time, we were shown small flashes as to what Clarkson was capable of, including a nice 14-point performance against the Clippers in a blowout loss.

More from Lakers News

But once Kobe Bryant went down with an injury for the season, the Lakers could finally stop fooling themselves about tanking and Clarkson went from seldom-used to starter. Since January 21, Clarkson has played, and started, in all 30 games, is averaging 31 minutes a night, but most importantly, is improving each night.

In his first 12 games as starter, we had an off-and-on version of Clarkson, where he might score 20 points or seven points on any given night. Through those 12 games, he averaged 12.9 points, 3.8 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and shot 41% from the field. In his last 18 games, we’ve gotten a far more consistent version, and subsequently a better version. His averages in that stretch are 16.2 points, 5.1 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and 47.5% shooting, a notable improvement. That stretch also includes a stretch of career-high point totals, first at 22, then at 25, and most recently against Oklahoma City hitting the 30-point plateau.

Clarkson’s ceiling is constantly rising. He was first a potential diamond in the rough in the draft, then became a sparsely used substitute. His early starts suggested he could be a nice sixth man or back-up point guard off the bench, but his most recent stretch might suggest something even more….

Could Jordan Clarkson be the point guard of the future for the Lakers?

It’s a question the Lakers are going to have to ask themselves going into the 2015 NBA Draft. With two of the consensus top four prospects being point guards, the Lakers could either find the point guard of the future or pass on them if they’re convinced they have one already.

We know Clarkson is athletic as just about any other point guard there is. He’s also had the benefit of working out with Steve Nash this season, which is an obvious positive. His growth in not just simple things like his jumper or not turning over the ball, but manipulating defenses to create openings for teammates or understanding the game is incredible given how little court time he’s had this year, relatively speaking.

For example, his game-winner on Monday came because he read the defense, cut back door, and saved Wayne Ellington, who had picked up his dribble, was being double-teamed, and was in a world of trouble. Would the version of Clarkson from the Summer League made that play?

It’s worth asking and pondering whether the Lakers feel Clarkson is the future floor general, especially when they’re expected to pursue Rajon Rondo or Goran Dragic this summer. Is it worth potentially stunting Clarkson’s development for these two? Could Clarkson become better?

There’s no definite answer right because Clarkson keeps exceeding expectations, simply put. It’s pointless to put a ceiling on his potential when he’ll just crash right through it. What do you think, is Clarkson the Lakers point guard of the future?

Next: Los Angeles Lakers: 5 Potential Line-Ups for 2015-16

More from Lake Show Life