Jordan Clarkson Has Proved His Talent, but Not His Free-Agency Price Tag

LOS ANGELES — The best player on the Los Angeles Lakers is Jordan Clarkson, a slithery 6’3” combo guard who’s as unpredictable as he is talented. But leading an 8-29 team (as of Jan. 8) isn’t something to brag about, and the 23-year-old isn't a guaranteed star-in-the-making. 

Evaluating any player on a losing team is difficult, but judging Clarkson is especially challenging. After just two seasons in the NBA, he’ll be a restricted free agent this summer, potentially forcing the Lakers to make an uncomfortable decision.

Should they re-sign him to a long-term deal or wait for another team to extend an offer sheet? The Lakers have the right to match anything, but how much is too much for Clarkson’s service?

On some nights, Clarkson is a low-budget version of Russell Westbrook. He dictates tempo and fearlessly attacks the hoop without hesitation. It’s a necessary characteristic to impact games on a nightly basis; Clarkson never backs down from looming rim protectors.

“Jordan has got an ability to score and plays with bounce and a cocky side that you respect," Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown said before a recent Lakers-Sixers game. "And he’s always one of those people that has a chance to have a big game. And so I feel like the Lakers found something special in him. He for sure looks like a keeper…He’s a young talent.”

Head coaches around the league generally admit stopping Clarkson is a central component in their defensive game plan versus the Lakers. “He can get going if we don’t keep our eye on him,” Golden State Warriors head coach Luke Walton told Bleacher Report.

But Clarkson’s forceful play only gets him so far. Defense remains a major question mark, along with his outside shot and diminutive size. Beyond the context of L.A.’s future, and how Clarks...

About the Author