Even though the Los Angeles Lakers came up short on Sunday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, there was one major bright spot in Jordan Clarkson.
The third-year guard tied his career-high with 30 points and also added a season-high eight assists in the Lakers’ 118-116 loss. Clarkson has been on fire since the All-Star break as hie role has increased with the trade of Lou Williams.
The fact that Clarkson was both scoring and playmaking stands out as head coach Luke Walton has been trying to get Clarkson back in that mode. Clarkson spoke about trying to find that balance after Sunday’s game via Mark Medina of the LA Daily News:
“I’m trying to find that balance again,” Clarkson said. “I’ve been thrown into different roles each and every year. So coming off the bench, coach got me in a role where I can have the ball and do somethings with it. I try to get my teammates shot and continue to make plays.”
Sunday night’s performance was easily the best of the season so far for Clarkson and possibly his career. He was attacking the basket at will instead of settling jumpers. As such he attempted 11 free throws on the night, making 10 of them.
Clarkson remains the Lakers’ sixth man and Walton did that for a reason as he would explain after the loss:
“I wanted to keep him on the ball and play a lot of those minutes as a primary ball handler,” Walton said. “That wouldn’t be the case in the starting group.”
Walton made the decision to move Nick Young out of the starting lineup in order to get a better look at a couple of the other guards on the roster. Many assumed Clarkson would take his spot, but Walton thought differently and the move paid off.
During his rookie season, Clarkson showed the ability to be both a scorer and a playmaker, but that hasn’t really been the case over the past two years. Sunday’s performance was a step back in that direction and if Clarkson stays on that path he could become an outstanding sixth man.