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Jordan Clarkson: The Breath of Fresh Air the Lakers Needed

There is a guy in Los Angeles now making a bunch of headlines. No, it’s not some famous actor or Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul or Blake Griffin, his name is Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson was 14 draft picks away from going un-drafted out of the Unversity of Missouri until his name was called during the 2014 NBA Draft. Clarkson was a point guard coming out of Missouri, and had been passed on by many teams and was drafted before Marcus Smart and Shabazz Napier, who he is currently out playing.

The Washington Wizards originally drafted Clarkson, but the Lakers traded for the rookie point guard as part of a draft day trade. Clarkson received little to no hype from the national media, as everyone was focused on the other Lakers rookie who was drafted at number five overall, Julius Randle. Randle was also having most of the attention drawn his way due to the fact he was a Lakers fan growing up, and now he would get to play for his life long team. Oh how quick things can change.

It’s not Randle’s fault the spotlight isn’t on him right now. In the Lakers’ first game of the season, Randle broke his right leg mid-way through the game. The injury left Lakers fans devastated, as they already had to deal with wondering if Kobe Bryant was the next to get hurt. Bryant getting hurt happened for the third straight year and Steve Nash’s chronic back problems continued on. That left the Lakers without their three best players for the majority of the season, as the Lakers continued to collapse right before our very eyes like some of us never thought would happen.

We mentioned Steve Nash’s back problems. Those problems are likely one of the reasons why Nash decided to hang it up just a few weeks back. The Lakers point guard situation behind Nash was also very weak, leaving it up to Jordan Clarkson as the Lakers wanted to see what a young talent like him could do with their season down the drain before the All-Star Break. Clarkson certainly isn’t disappointing, and may be exceeding the Lakers expectations.

In 57 games for the Lakers, Clarkson is averaging 11.5 points, 3.4 assists, and 3.2 rebounds in 36 starts for the Lakers. Those numbers have exceed also every other rookie point guard taken before Clarkson in the draft. You know a lot of general mangers have to be thinking to themselves right now, why didn’t we give the kid a shot? It’s to early to tell if they made the wrong decision, but you know they didn’t expect Clarkson to being putting up these types of numbers.

What’s even better for Clarkson’s sake is his numbers in the last ten games. He is averaging 18.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 6.5 assists during that span, and is averaging 17.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 7 assists during the month of April. Clarkson’s numbers may have not have happened if several other players in front of him didn’t go down with injuries, but everything happens for a reason. Clarkson’s story makes you wonder how many other players never really were able to get the chance to show their talents to the NBA world.

One thing that I have seen out of Clarkson made me think back to a point guard taken number three overall in the 2008 NBA Draft, Russell Westbrook. While Clarkson hasn’t even recorded a triple double yet, the comparison between Clarkson and Westbrook’s rookie season are so similar, it will finally make Lakers fans smile. Let’s get into the comparison of Westbrook’s rookie season to Clarkson’s when Clarkson was able to get minutes after the all-star break.

  • Russell Westbrook: 15.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 39% field goal
  • Jordan Clarkson: 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 48% field goal

Of course Westbrook had a lot more to work with that might have taken away from his production, but the stats are similar, and the Lakers could have a poor man’s Russell Westbrook on their hands, which should sound so refreshing to them. The Lakers the last two years have crumbled to the ground, hopefully Clarkson changes this.

When you look at what the Lakers have to deal with the last few years, you would have thought this could never happen. It started with Dwight drama, trying to get the star center to stay in Los Angeles which of course didn’t happen. They then lost Bryant again for the season in 2013, and were un-able to get any top talent in the off-season again after notably pursing Carmelo Anthony heavily. It was the same story again for the Lakers, but Jordan Clarkson is slowly bringing back hope to the basketball city that was once ruled forever by the Lakers.

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