The Los Angeles Lakers made a wise decision when they acquired the 46th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and used it to select Jordan Clarkson from Missouri. The unheralded young guard went on to win first-team all-rookie honors and acted as a silver lining for Lakers fans during a difficult season.
Clarkson continued to impress in his sophomore campaign and started all 79 games that he appeared in. He was the only guard to remain with the Lakers from the previous season, but Clarkson managed to fit nicely with new faces like D’Angelo Russell, Louis Williams, and Marcelo Huertas.
As a restricted free agent this summer, Clarkson will be inking a new contract that will certainly be more lucrative than his last. While he can sign with any team, the Lakers have the right to match the offer and retain their young guard. According to Clarkson, staying in Los Angeles is his preference (via NBCLA’s Shahan Ahmed):
“I definitely want to stay in LA but kind of have an open mind.”
While Clarkson has had a fantastic first two seasons in the league, he recognizes that he still has work to do if he’s going to fulfill his potential. This summer, he’s focusing on adding muscle in order to improve on both ends of the court:
“I feel like I need to get stronger for both: offensively and defensively. I played mostly (shooting guard) and (point guard) this year, so just switching between those positions and being able to guard both of those. Adding muscle and strength will be a big help to me.”
If the Lakers end up drafting Duke’s Brandon Ingram with the second overall pick, as they are projected to do, it appears as though he will have some company in the weight room.
Clarkson is quickly becoming known for his work ethic after spending much of last summer improving his three-point shooting, which jumped from 31 percent to 35 percent as a result. This year, Clarkson has correctly assessed that his defense needs work, and can take his game to another level if he can make some major improvements in that area this summer.