Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson started in his first game of the preseason on Saturday night, taking on Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors. After five games of coming off the bench with the second unit, Clarkson was back alongside D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, and finished with 15 points, three boards and an assist in his 30 minutes.
After the game, Walton said he wasn’t overly impressed with how Clarkson looked in the starting five, but also acknowledged that one game against the best team in the Western Conference isn’t the best to make a judgement.
“Wasn’t great tonight, but it’s a small sample size,” Walton said in Las Vegas on Saturday night. “The ball wasn’t as freely moving, and he didn’t seem to get as many good looks, rhythm looks, as he was getting with that second unit, but again it’s a small sample size.”
It was also Clarkson’s first game since missing practice to attend the funeral of one of his childhood friend’s a day earlier, something that has undoubtedly been weighing on his mind.
Clarkson reiterated at Monday’s practice, that whether he starts or comes off the bench Jordan Clarkson makes no difference to him, and Walton remained undecided on the starting lineup for Wednesday’s preseason Warriors re-match.
“It wasn’t anything JC did,” Walton said of Clarkson’s performance with the starters. “I don’t think he got as many looks as he has with the other group. That’s something we’ll figure out if we want to try it again next game as a staff, probably talk to him a little bit and see what he’s thinking and how he’s feeling and make that decision tomorrow.”
As for Clarkson, he’s enjoyed his time in the second unit.
“It’s cool, I like playing with the second unit,” Clarkson said after Saturday’s loss. “Just having the opportunity to come off the bench, try to bring energy into the game, I feel like it’s good for me.”
While Walton said Clarkson’s energy is certainly something he brings to the table, Walton was quick to point out that he sees him as a lot more than an “energy guy.”
“He’s much more than an energy guy,” Walton said after Monday’s practice. “Jordan’s probably been our next best perimeter defender (second to Nick Young) all camp. He brings the energy, but he’s also one of the best scorers on our team, been one of the best three-point shooters. I think the second unit has a lot of guys on it that play with energy, but it’s definitely something he brings to the table.”
The Lakers will get one more practice in on Tuesday before heading down to the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego for another crack at the best team in the West.