Kobe Bryant has been officially ruled out for the remainder of the season as his recovery for a torn rotator cuff will keep him out for nine months. As such, this season becomes even more about the future and the Los Angeles Lakers’ young talent.
The team currently has three rookies on the roster, each of which brings something different to the table, and all could be major parts of the Lakers’ future.
Jordan Clarkson has been very solid since being inserted into the starting lineup. He isn’t quite a true point guard yet, but he brings speed and athleticism to the position that the Lakers haven’t had in years. He is also a student of the game who is staying in contact with Steve Nash to better himself.
Tarik Black has dealt with an ankle injury recently, but he has shown himself to be an excellent big man who can control the boards and provide rim protection. While he isn’t the most flashy player, he does all of the dirty work.
Then there is Julius Randle who is the most difficult to judge. He was lost for the year in the season opener, but showed flashes of being a very good player during the preseason and summer league.
So we asked our panel of experts, which rookie do you feel has the most potential: Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, or Tarik Black? This is what they had to say:
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): Despite being undrafted last summer, Tarik Black has the most upside. Things that can’t be taught are hustle and energy and Black has shown he definitely has both in his short stint with the Lakers as well as his time in Houston.
Rockets coach Kevin McHale didn’t want to release him, but when given the chance to land Josh Smith Black had to go. To be given an endorsement from one of the better teams in the West is a huge testament for Black’s ability and potential.
Even in limited minutes, Black has produced admirably, nearly picking up two double-doubles in only eight games. He recently injured his ankle but looks to be over it.
Earning a starting job some point during the season shouldn’t be out of the question for Black. With more minutes and a bigger role, his production would see an improvement.
On top of all that, Black’s head is on straight and he is willing to make the most of the opportunity ahead of him. He remains humbled just by the chance to be in the NBA and his work ethic shows. As long as he is given time, he is going to develop into a very good player.
Kevin Chan (@Kevin_Cruiser): I think Julius Randle has the most upside of all the Lakers’ rookies. I think Clarkson and Black could eventually be great role players, but I don’t see either one of them developing into a superstar.
Randle could potentially develop into a future All-Star. He’s already a tenacious rebounder and has a decent post-game. Randle could be the Lakers star power forward of the future, but only time will tell. Unfortunately he had to sit out this season due to injury. But I’m looking forward to seeing him hit the hardwood next season.
In the meantime I hope Clarkson and Black make the most of their extended minutes through the end of the season. It seems thast Byron Scott is willing to give them meaningful playing time now that the season is all but lost.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): Originally I felt that Julius Randle was the clear choice, but with his recent play since becoming a starter, I now believe that Jordan Clarkson has the most potential of all the Lakers’ rookies.
In his four games as a starter, Clarkson is averaging 13.8 points, 3.3 assists, and one steal, very solid for a rookie point guard. Those numbers are even more impressive when considering Clarkson has gone up against Tony Parker, John Wall, Derrick Rose, and elite defender Patrick Beverley in those games.
Clarkson already has the physical attributes to be a very good point guard in this league, but I am just as impressed with his work ethic. He is staying in contact with Steve Nash so he can learn the intricacies of the point guard position and that will only make him that much better.
The experience he is receiving by starting at point guard will pay major dividends in his growth and at this rate he could definitely be the Lakers’ point guard of the future.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): At this point in time, I’d still have to go with Julius Randle. It remains to be seen if Randle continues to have injury problems moving forward, but as of right now, he’s without a doubt the rookie on the Lakers roster with the most potential.
Although Randle has arguably the brightest future, Jordan Clarkson has shown a lot of promise in the games he’s played so far this season. Clarkson recorded a career-high against the Washington Wizards with 18 points. The Missouri product has started four straight games and will likely continue to be a starter unless head coach Byron Scott decides to mix things up again.
Tarik Black has also played surprisingly well. The undrafted rookie was picked up off waivers after the Houston Rockets let him go to make room for Josh Smith. Black has been a welcome addition to the front court and is quickly becoming a better option off the bench than Robert Sacre.
Fortunately, despite the team struggling through another disappointing season, the future looks bright for the three rookies on the squad. The Lakers may be able to add to this young group of players if able to keep their high draft pick this summer and grab another promising prospect with the pick acquired in the Jeremy Lin deal.
Lakers Rookie Jordan Clarkson On His Development