Archives For Jordan Clarkson

Can Jordan Clarkson Stick?

Darius Soriano —  September 5, 2017

What do you make of Jordan Clarkson? Seriously. The perception of him as a player fascinates me.

I think we all have our opinions of Clarkson at this stage of his career — with some being more harsh (or forgiving) than others. But, one thing that intrigues me about him now is the path he took to get to this point and, more importantly, what the next steps are for him as a player (and with the Lakers — which are, of course, connected).

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I really like Jordan Clarkson. He cares about getting better. He works hard. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He is self aware enough to see some of the weaknesses in his game and then takes measures to try to eliminate them. Any player who has these traits will endear themselves to me because not all players are like this. A lot of them are the opposite.

Jordan Clarkson also frustrates me at times. He has become increasingly one dimensional as an offensive player. When watching him play live, especially recently, I’ve wondered if he realized he had teammates on the floor. During the recent game against the 76ers, his general approach led me to actually tweet this:

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Unlike past seasons, the Lakers have wasted no time in free agency this summer. After reportedly agreeing to a contract with Cavs big man Timofey Mozgov for 4 year, $64 million contract, the team took care of one of their own free agents late last night.

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While most informed analysis has moved beyond “count the rings” as a measurement of what constitutes success, saying we, as observers/fans/analysts, are beyond the line of thinking where results outweigh process would be incorrect. This, in many ways, is completely understandable. If the ultimate goal is to win, those who win should be lauded — no matter how they got there.

Picking apart the process of how a team wins can be a worthwhile endeavor. But, let’s face it, if you’re winning at the highest level the odds are that success is predicated on a well supported process. Talent can overcome bad process in limited samples, but over the long haul talent which is misguided will not succeed. Just as talent reinforced by proper guidance will, more times than not, see results approaching/at their most optimal.

That may not be enough to win at the highest level, but winning is hard. It takes some luck, especially when you consider lots of teams are really talented. Even with all of them achieving their maximum results, some are still going to fall short. There is only one team standing at the end.

This brings me to this year’s Lakers. This group, as a whole, is not super talented. They are also not achieving results anyone will recall fondly at any point in the future. They are a footnote in any discussion about success in today’s NBA because they have barely experienced any.

But success is relative. This team may not be competing for a championship (or even a playoff berth), but they are trying to find their way towards that type of success. And it starts with talent. These Lakers — these young Lakers — have some of that. More than some, I would argue.

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I need to start out by saying I am a big Jordan Clarkson fan. By all accounts, both public and from what sources have told me, he is one of, if not the, hardest workers on the team and is a good teammate. He takes the game seriously, genuinely wants to become a great player, and seems willing to do what is necessary to improve.

In watching this season, though, a nagging question I have had is how much improvement has he shown from his rookie season to this point in his sophomore campaign? Reflexively, I think most would say a fair amount. I know I did when I first asked myself that question. The truth, though, isn’t so straight forward.

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Frustrations mount when a team has lost 45 of its 56 games. When a team loses at that rate, there are many issues to point to and the Lakers are no different. I have maintained, however, that once it was abundantly clear this team would not win at a level which would match some of the preseason rhetoric issued by those in charge, fans would have been pacified if the young players were showcased while playing a more aesthetically pleasing style.

This, though, has not necessarily been the case. Yes, the trio of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle have gotten plenty of burn. Not at the rate which many would like, but none have been buried on the bench either. We can argue about who is starting and/or who is closing — which are worthwhile discussions — but all are playing at least half the game and getting at least enough minutes to show off what they are capable of.

The problem is, they’re just not doing it together as a group. Take, for example, Friday night’s game against the Spurs.

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The Rising Stars Challenge featured the Lakers’ backcourt of the future and both D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson represented themselves and the team well. The game did not feature a lot of defense and was mostly played at a tempo and intensity resembling a glorified scrimmage, but it was still nice to see both players do well.

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Over at SB Nation, Tom Ziller did his yearly rankings of the top 100 pending free agents. It’s a must read for anyone interested in what player movement might be coming this summer and how teams’ dollars will be allocated in the search for outside roster help (non-trade variety). I’d suggest giving the entire entry a read, especially since the Lakers are primed to be major players in the FA market with, potentially, $60 million to spend on reinforcements.

But my focus isn’t on who the Lakers might target from outside their roster, but instead on one of their own core players who enters free agency: Jordan Clarkson. The 2nd year guard ranks 21st on Ziller’s list and has the following entry attached:

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