How Jordan Clarkson’s Evolution Impacts the Los Angeles Lakers Rebuild

Can an unheralded second-round rookie point guard make a difference in a team’s wholesale reconstruction? In the case of Jordan Clarkson and the Los Angeles Lakers, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

Each offseason, NBA teams approach the draft and free agency in hopes of achieving some level of improvement. Great teams may only need a tweak here and there, while the cellar-dwellers look for larger changes.

With the Lakers coming off their worst season ever at 21-61, the needs are obvious—good players at every position. But the truth of the matter is that the front office has to prioritize—the combination of the draft and cash in the coffers cannot solve all ills.

This is where it helps to have a young prospect with the talent, desire and physical tools to create an impact in the league. It's also refreshing when that player combines confidence with a modicum of humility. 

Clarkson was the 46th pick out of Missouri last June, acquired by the Lakers for $1.8 million from the Washington Wizards. The 22-year-old languished on the bench during the early part of the season but was thrust into a new role on January 23, as he made his starting debut in his hometown against the San Antonio Spurs. And from there, the seedling took root and began to grow, soaking up the opportunities that came his way. 

By the time an otherwise woeful Lakers season had mercifully ended, the 6’5” Clarkson had started 38 games, averaging 15.8 points on 45.8 percent shooting, along with 5.0 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals.  During that time, Clarkson showcased his speed and ability to slash to the basket, but he also gradually improved when it came to running the offense and facilitating for others.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak noted the rookie’s progression during a season-ending press conference, per Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers