During the dog days of the 2014-2015 season, it was the rapid development of Jordan Clarkson that kept (some) Lakers fans tuning in to games that were otherwise unwatchable. As a score-first guard, Clarkson thrived in the high pick-and-roll, where he was able to exploit the current defensive trend of giving up mid-range twos by becoming an efficient scorer from the elbows. His shot chart from last season demonstrates just how deadly his 20-foot game can be in the high pick and roll:
However, if Clarkson is going to reach the next level, he is going to need to expand his range and improve his ability to play off the ball, which means he will have to increase his efficiency from the wings (though his sample size there is admittedly small).
He also shot just 31 percent from three last season, which prevents him from being much of a floor-spacer. If Clarkson can get to respectability, say 35 percent from downtown, it’s going to open up the floor for his sneaky drives to the basket and help create space for Kobe Bryant and Julius Randle to operate.
With D’Angelo Russell in town, Clarkson is also going to need to prove that he can be effective without the ball in his hands. If he can expand his mid-range game to include the ability to come off screens and connect in catch-and-shoot situations (think Rip Hamilton) it’s going to make him that much more deadly, especially with a guy like Russell who can hit him in the right place at the right time:
Defensively, Clarkson needs to continue to get stronger and smarter. He isn’t a bad defender, but understandably last season he showed most of his promise on the offensive end, where he was counted on to carry a bad team. Next season, he will need to become a more reliable team defender and use smart positioning and quick feet to pester some of the larger shooting guards he will find himself matched up against, like Klay Thompson and James Harden.
Clarkson plays with a chip on his shoulder after dropping to the 46th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, and if he can follow up his All-Rookie First Team season with another leap forward, he’s going to be a major asset in Los Angeles. While he has drawn some comparisons to Russell Westbrook, a more accurate (and realistic) goal would be Monta Ellis, which wouldn’t a bad thing at all.
CONTINUE SLIDESHOW: Clarkson, Randle, Russell Hold Keys To Lakers Future