Throughout his first training camp as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, Luke Walton has put a lot of emphasis on the defensive end, an area where the Lakers struggled last season.
One player who admittedly struggled on the defensive end last season is guard Jordan Clarkson, who is entering his third season in the league.
Clarkson has set a goal of improving on the defensive end and that was apparent in the Lakers first preseason game Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings.
While Clarkson unexpectedly came off the bench, he did play 20 minutes in the game. According to Mark Medina of the Daily News, Walton would not commit to what role Clarkson will be in to start the season, but he did say that he wants Clarkson to continue to be aggressive on defense:
“I don’t see anything differently, honestly,” Walton said. “Jordan’s still going to play a lot of minutes. He’s been one of our best defensive players all camp. I’m going to continue to challenge him to take that on. Whether he’s playing with D’Angelo and the starters or playing with the second unit, we want him being aggressive. We want him hounding the ball. We want him getting out and running the lanes.”
Despite it being just the first game, Walton was impressed with Clarkson at the defensive end after the 103-84 win, via Lakers Nation reporter Ryan Ward:
Luke Walton on Jordan Clarkson: “I told him I think he can be a phenomenal defender in this league.” #Lakers
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) October 5, 2016
Clarkson had 12 points, six rebounds and a steal playing mostly with the second unit.
Los Angeles allowed just 84 points to the Kings, which is down considerably from the 106.9 points per game they gave up last season, which ranked 27th out of 30 teams.