The 2015-16 NBA season has come to an end for the Los Angeles Lakers with Kobe Bryant walking away from the game and a lot of concerns to be addressed heading into the offseason.
Along with trying to upgrade the roster through the NBA Draft and free agency, the Lakers brass informed the team’s current players what needs to change moving forward during exit interviews last week. Although arguably one of the most consistent players on the squad, Jordan Clarkson isn’t without his fair share of flaws and head coach Byron Scott let him know what he needs to work on over the summer.
Scott wants Clarkson to concentrate on improving his play on the defensive side of the basketball floor during the offseason, and if he doesn’t, there will be consequences. Scott let Clarkson know that playing time is on the line if he doesn’t improve defensively, via Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News:
“If we get the right players in here and if he doesn’t do it, he won’t play much,” Scott said of Clarkson. “It’s that simple.”
During his rookie season with the Lakers, Clarkson emerged as a promising young talent. No one expected much from the second-round draft pick out of Missouri, but he far exceeded expectations in earning NBA All-Rookie First Team honors.
In his second year in Los Angeles, the 23-year-old started all 79 games he played in improving in a few of offensive categories. Clarkson averaged 11.9 points per game in his rookie campaign and boosted that number up to 15.5.
Clarkson’s shooting beyond the arc also improved with the second-year guard bumping up to 34.7 percent from 31.4, but as Scott stressed, defense is the primary concern. Opponents had no trouble scoring against Clarkson as Medina points out:
According to NBA.com, players went 62.5 percent from the field on shots Clarkson defended. Clarkson also finished with a defensive rating of 111.5, meaning opponents scored that many points per 100 possessions anytime Clarkson was on the floor.
Collectively the Lakers were an awful team defensively. The addition of Roy Hibbert in the paint and return of Kobe Bryant and signing of Metta World Peace were thought to help their defensive woes, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.
The Lakers brass will try to lure in a star or two in free agency this summer, but improving on the defensive end of the floor appears to be a primary concern. D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle also have a lot of work to do defensively as this young core tries to live up to expectations and carry the franchise into the post-Kobe era in Los Angeles.