Despite starting all 79 games he played last season, Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson has begun this preseason coming off the bench for first-year coach Luke Walton, a role he is not accustomed to.
Clarkson welcomed the change though and has led a second unit that brought energy to the floor through the team’s first five preseason games.
With starting shooting guard Lou Williams missing Saturday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors, Clarkson finally got an opportunity to return to the starting lineup and it could not have come at a better time for Clarkson.
Last week one of Clarkson’s childhood friends Cameron Moore died during his first practice with his Macedonian basketball team AV Ohrid. Clarkson missed practice Friday to attend the funeral, and then flew back to Las Vegas for the game Saturday with news that he would be inserted into the starting lineup.
Clarkson talked about what the past few days have been like for him, via Tania Ganguli of the LA Times:
“It’s been a tough 48 hours for me,” Clarkson said. “But I try to … use the court as a getaway right now.”
In 30 minutes Clarkson scored 15 points to go along with three rebounds and an assist. His head coach complimented attitude despite everything he is going through:
“For someone his age to have to deal with all that and still be here and play games, all that’s gotta be pretty heavy and hard to do,” Lakers Coach Luke Walton said. “He’s kept a good attitude and continued to work hard throughout the whole thing.”
Walton has not said what role he plans to utilize Clarkson in during the regular season, but regardless of if he starts or comes off the bench, Clarkson will continue to provide energy at both ends of the floor for a young, inexperienced Lakers team.