Under the tenure of head coach Luke Walton, a new era of basketball has begun with the Los Angeles Lakers. Taking a step in the right direction, Walton has his team running an evolving system, fitted to the up-tempo pace of the NBA.
The athletic roster is currently adapting to the ins and outs of Walton’s system, with different players having varying roles.
Perhaps the biggest surprise thus far through the preseason has been Walton placing guard Jordan Clarkson in a sixth-man type role. While the Lakers do have scoring guards off the bench, Clarkson’s playmaking ability seems to have garnered a different role.
Lou Williams has been starting in place of Clarkson, up until he was given a few games off in order to rest. Coming off of his long-term contract this offseason, Clarkson is the leader of the young core. The Texas native is ready to make an impact, regardless if he is starting or not.
Walton remained undecided on Clarkson’s future position with the team, unsure if the 24-year-old will start Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors, via Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet:
Walton is non-committal about Jordan Clarkson making another appearance in the starting lineup Wednesday vs. Golden State.
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) October 17, 2016
Clarkson admitted that the bench unit is having fun on the court. The bench mob has played with a certain ferocity on the court, hustling and being attentive on defensive sets.
As a part of the “breakfast club,” Clarkson steadily improved his overall game this offseason. He stated the three-point shot has become much easier for him, expanding his range on the court.
When examining the evolution of Clarkson’s game, one needed improvement stood out over the rest. His lackluster performance on defense during the 2015-16 season drew much criticism.
The third-year player set out to vastly improve his defense this offseason, with coach Walton taking notice.
Walton believes in his guard’s ability to increase his defensive prowess, which will come with the experience he is gaining in the NBA.
During the contest on Saturday, the starting unit fell behind 30 points in the first half. Towards the second half of the game, both Steve Kerr and Walton began playing their bench units, with the Lakers making drastic improvements.
For the most part, Clarkson led the second unit and mounted a comeback, bringing the game to within single digits. Although the Lakers would go on to lose, the determination and hustle from the second unit was certainly something to build off of.