Jordan Clarkson Can Become Lakers’ New Sixth Man

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LOS ANGELES, USA - JANUARY 08 : Jordan Clarkson (L) of Los Angeles Lakers in action against Nikola Vucevic (C) of Orlando Magic during a NBA game between Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic at Staples Center in Los Angeles, USA on January 08, 2017. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

After signing a four-year, $50 million deal this past off-season, guard Jordan Clarkson has experienced a see-saw season in Los Angeles. Playing predominantly off the bench, Clarkson has been sitting in the shadow of the recently traded Lou Williams. A front-runner for Sixth Man of the Year, Williams has put together a superb season. Clarkson had to remain patient. As a talented player who’s yet to find his role with the team, Clarkson now has a great opportunity.

Jordan Clarkson Can Become Lakers’ New Sixth Man

What Clarkson Brings to the Table

Still only 24, Clarkson plays with great energy off the bench and has become a favorite of head coach Luke Walton. Before the All-Star break, Walton would insert Clarkson at point guard instead of fellow youngster D’Angelo Russell for fourth quarter play. This surprised some Lakers fans and even caused some to question the Walton-Russell relationship.

A very capable shooter, Clarkson can be relied upon to hit shots in key moments. This likely contributed to Clarkson’s fourth quarter role this season. The former second-round pick also offers size. Standing at 6’5”, Clarkson is very athletic and is willing to attack the defense with those attributes. Size is something that Williams couldn’t offer the Lakers.

So far this season, Clarkson is averaging 13.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game in 60 contests. Shooting 45 percent from the field and just shy of 33 percent from beyond the arc, Clarkson can be an effective shooter.

Magic’s Thoughts on Clarkson

Magic Johnson was recently appointed the Lakers’ new President of Basketball Operations. In his first interview after the huge announcement, Johnson made some interesting and promising comments on the team’s young core. The Laker great mentioned the likes of Julius Randle, Russell, and Ivica Zubac (who Johnson is now calling “Big Z”). The Lakers are trying to build around their young core, which Clarkson is a part of. Johnson made some very interesting comments on the guard.

“Clarkson I love, I think he can be one of the best defenders in the league,” Johnson said.

That’s high praise from one of the NBA’s greatest players ever. Clarkson certainly has the build and the frame to be a really good defender, but the young guard has a long way to go.

The Competition

The Lakers have a solid young core. Players such as Larry Nance Jr. and Zubac appear to have a bright future with the team, just like Clarkson. Even undrafted big man Tarik Black has a chance to become the team’s new sixth man. Nance, however, is the standout amongst Clarkson’s competition for the role. A battle for the role between two up-and-comers can only be beneficial for the team.

So what does Nance do that Clarkson doesn’t? Every team needs a player like Nance. He provides pure hustle all game long, whether it be by diving for loose balls, grabbing a much-needed rebound, or posterizing an opposing player. Nance gives his team everything except shooting. With the NBA becoming a league dominated by the three-pointer, Clarkson has an edge over Nance. That’s especially so with Walton coming from the Golden State Warriors system.

Nance and Clarkson will have to battle for the role of the first man off the bench. That’s a coveted role, after the success of former Lakers guard “Sweet” Lou Williams.

 

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