Training camp is often a time that players use to springboard their NBA careers, which is the case for Los Angeles Lakers rookie guard Jordan Clarkson as it’s his chance to prove that he belongs in the league.
Clarkson was selected 46th overall in this year’s draft by the Lakers after they acquired the pick in a trade with the Washington Wizards. With that process behind him, the 22-year-old is now stepping into a new stage of his basketball career. There will be much change to adapt to on the court, but he knows that will require plenty of hard work.
“I know there will be a change in the speed of the game, change of pace, and I must be able to guard multiple positions,” Clarkson said. “I know it’s going to be different coming into the season, but it just comes down to playing. I just got to get used to the whole thing. I am just coming here to work hard and compete. “
Despite dropping in the draft a little further than he expected, Clarkson showed his potential while playing for the Lakers’ summer league team in July by averaging 15.8 points, 4.4 assists, and 5.0 rebounds in five games played. This included scoring in double-figures in each contest, shooting 42 percent from 3-point range, and having at least five rebounds and five assists in three games.
“It was good,” Clarkson said. “I am just trying to bring that momentum to the season. That’s in the past now I just got to play my heart out.”
One of the reasons that may have led to Clarkson’s drop in the draft could be the perception of him as more of a combo guard rather than a pure point guard. This belief stems from a high assist-to-turnover ratio (3.4 to 2.7) last season playing for Missouri. However, when asked about what type of player he sees himself, he was quick and decisive with his response.
“Playmaker,” Clarkson said. “I am a guy that just makes plays. I can score the ball, and pass. I can score on all three levels by getting to the basket, (shooting from) mid-range, and spot up. I just try to do a little bit of everything.”
Head coach Byron Scott‘s defense-first mentality also seemed to already have taken its affect on the rookie, as he made it known he can a major contributor on that end of the floor as well.
“First I will be able to help on the defensive end. My athletic ability to be able to guard the one to the three. I can score the ball and play make for others. I am just trying to bring all three of those to the table.”
Clarkson also recognized that he will have to opportunity to play with a proven player in Kobe Bryant, who he seems eager to learn a great deal from this upcoming season.
“I haven’t seen him much, I just came here on Monday,” Clarkson said. “He’s real though. Being able to be around him throughout the whole season is certainly a blessing.”
There is no doubt that Clarkson will have his work cut out for him in his quest for significant playing time at point guard behind Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin. The same could be said at shooting guard behind the likes of Bryant and Xavier Henry, but if he can carry over his high level of play from the summer league into training camp, it could change his outlook on the season.
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