Can D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson Be Lakers’ Backcourt of the Future?

The Los Angeles Lakers, with D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson at the backcourt controls, didn't have to wait long for their first bout with the boo birds. After the first quarter of their third game at the Las Vegas Summer League, Russell and Clarkson (and the rest of their teammates) got an earful from a house packed with Lakers partisans.

Russell, a supposed ace passer, had turned the ball over twice. Clarkson, an All-Rookie first-teamer known for getting to the cup, settled for jump shots—four without a make. By the end of the afternoon, Russell had tracked up eight turnovers against a single assist, Clarkson had nailed just three of this 14 field-goal attempts and the Lakers had slumped away with a 10-point loss to the New York Knicks.

It was an inauspicious showing amid an altogether unsatisfactory stint at summer league for the Lakers' presumptive backcourt of the future. But as poorly as that pair played at times in Sin City, those who observed the most rudimentary glimpses of what's to come in L.A. had (mostly) positive things to say about Russell and Clarkson.

"I think they'll fit well together," said one scout in attendance who works for an independent scouting service. "They can both shoot, pass and dribble. They can play both positions and split duties. They just need time to develop."

This is especially true of Russell. At 19 and with a single year of seasoning at Ohio State, Russell is much further from reaching his considerable ceiling than the 23-year-old Clarkson, who spent two years at the University of Tulsa and another at the University of Missouri before turning pro.

"Clarkson is who he is," said another scout from an independent scouting service. "Russell will get there. He can be good, but they have to be patient with him."

The need for restraint in Russell's case was evident throughout summer league. In three of his five outings, he wound up with mo...

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