The 82-game NBA season is a grueling process for every team, requiring constant adjustments and interchanging scenarios. The disappointing stretch following the 10-10 start required a different mindset for head coach Luke Walton, using a long stretch of the season to experiment with his young players.
However, this crucial development and in-game experience meant an ever-changing rotation, with some of the higher paid players having to take a backseat. Jordan Clarkson, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal the previous offseason, was one of the recently paid Lakers that saw his role change.
As every draft pick steadily gets acclimated to the NBA, they also learn to deal with all that comes it. Although Clarkson saw a demoted role during the middle portion of the season, he believes his talent allows him to impact the game in any facet, via Mark Medina of the O.C. Register:
“It’s tough being able to shift your mind during the years and change roles,” said Clarkson, who averaged 14.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting on 44.5 percent from the field last season. “I work through it and have made it happen. I feel like I’m one of those guys that can impact the game in any way.”
After beginning the season as the starting shooting guard, a lack of chemistry caused Walton to shift Clarkson to a bench role. As the season progressed, the 25-year-old turned into an energy burst and electric scorer off the bench.
He was rewarded for his hard player and was promptly re-inserted into the starting lineup, as another experiment to see if he can run the point guard position alongside D’Angelo Russell. Clarkson is poised to return to his sixth-man role entering the 2017-18 season, as the Lakers have many guard options in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft.
Clarkson doesn’t envision his role changing that much heading into next season, regardless of who the Lakers draft. The 46th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft enters his fourth season hungry to take that next step, a progression that is highly needed for the overall growth of this young core.