The Los Angeles Lakers were able to pull away from the Phoenix Suns for a 100-93 win, largely due to the play of Jordan Clarkson off the bench. His season-high 25 points led the Lakers, providing clutch buckets while shooting at an efficient rate (11-for-19).
That strong display was a leading cause to start the second quarter, also including a period where Clarkson scored 14 points in a row for Los Angeles. Head coach Luke Walton has had the daunting task of finding a spot in the rotation for each key player on this roster, trying to find the proper balance for a team that is attempting to take the next step in its development.
A key task for the second-year head coach has been communicating with his young players, imparting wisdom and guiding them on finding the appropriate distribution in all parts of their game. That isn’t limited to just rookies like Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, but every player on the team that still has room for improvement.
Walton had some specific critiques for Clarkson, to create that necessary balance between passing, scoring and orchestrating the offense. “We don’t want him dribbling 15 times. He’s going to be a big part of our offense and he’s going to be a big part of our scoring threat, but we want him to make quick decisions and we run a lot of stuff for him, so we ask him to make passes when he gets double teamed or blitzes, and if he’s open he can shoot the ball, one or two dribbles.
Besides that, we want him to get off of it, and put pressure on the defense, from coming off pin ways and cutting off ball and things of that nature. It’s a work in progress but he’s doing a good job with it.”
Walton does have a valid point, as Clarkson can often fall victim to stagnating the offense, attempting to create his own shot. That causes his teammates to get caught ball-watching, turning into a wasted possession unless he bails out his team with a basket.
The 24-year-old was coming off of a rough two games before his outburst against the Suns. Along with his 25 points, he collected three rebounds and three assists, all while shooting a high percentage and leading the bench unit.
Every player has different facets of their game they need to work on, with Clarkson humbly admitting last season that defense was a big step he wanted to address. While the Lakers chemistry will be better as the season goes on, the individual players must continue to work on their skills, improving their basketball IQ, and keeping their body sharp in the weight room and recovery.
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERSNATION FORUM CLUB