Build Around Or With Jordan Clarkson? Who Cares, Just Build…
Gary A. Vasquez - USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez – USA TODAY Sports

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The title of the show alone makes the jokes easy. The Walking Dead. Just like the 2014-15 Los Angeles Lakers! Technically alive, sort of, but not really!

The more ambitious can stretch that metaphor like Laffy Taffy in any number of directions. The Lakers can be walkers, animated in body but not soul, just waiting to be brained by the living, except those creatures are relentless and very dangerous. So maybe the Lakers are those totally non-threatening walkers Michonne de-jawed and leashed. The better comparison is to Rick’s crew, and every other living soul, existing day to day under the constant threat of consumption by an overwhelming force, where even the most monumental victories seem totally pointless in the grand scheme of things. Nothing in that world ends well for anyone, nothing in this one has ended well for the Lakers. At some point, Nick Young is going to stagger into the locker room, clothes tattered like a model in a Kanye fashion show. Nobody will pay the rags any mind (Swaggy being Swaggy) or notice the limp (knee injury).

BAM! He eats everyone inside.

Kinda depressing, no? I just hope I’m not working that game.

For a more hopeful post-apocalyptic Hollywood metaphor, though, try Wall-E.

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The Earth is an unpopulated wasteland in which a lone, leftover robot doggedly-but-pointlessly stacks trash into giant towers while piling up remnants of a once-thriving planet. Hard work predestined to amount to nothing, kind of like Byron Scott’s crew this year, losing game after game despite consistently solid effort, all in the shadow of the banners hanging above them. Then, in a world thought lost, a single plant is found. A green spring of hope that must be preserved at all costs so that humanity — or the Lakers — might restore what’s been lost.

We call that plant “Jordan Clarkson.” And he’s getting a ton of attention.

For one thing, he’s played extremely well. Since the All-Star break, Clarkson has averaged 15.6 points, 5.0 assists, and 4.8 rebounds a night (through Sunday) and upped his field goal percentage by over .100 points. His court awareness has improved, both in terms of distributing over scoring and a better defensive awareness. By the standards of any rookie, he’s been rock solid, good enough to land on the NBA’s All-Rookie squad. Judged by draft position (46th) Clarkson is a revelation.

Given how virtually nothing else on the floor has been an unadulterated positive — even Kobe Bryant’s big early season numbers came with the low efficiency caveat — excitement over Clarkson’s performance has prompted some big questions about his impact on the team going forward. Is he the point guard of the future? Do they need to draft one this summer? Sign one? Is Clarkson a product of context, a good enough player putting up inflated numbers on a terrible team?

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