Few second-round draft picks have the kind of breakout rookie season Jordan Clarkson had with the Los Angeles Lakers last year. Clarkson far exceeded expectations after earning the minutes from head coach Byron Scott and eventually became a starter in the backcourt.
The main reason for Clarkson’s breakout year was his dedication to improving his craft. The Missouri product became determined to improve in any way possible, including spending time with the Los Angeles D-Fenders at times last season.
Clarkson recently talked about playing for the D-Fenders and how it helped turn him into the player he is today, via Brian Kotloff of Dleague.NBA.com:
“I’m focused on always working on my game,” he told NBADLeague.com. “Early in the year, I wasn’t getting much time with the Lakers. Sometimes I would ask Coach to just go let me play. I love to hoop and you can never get better just by sitting on the bench. Going to play in those [D-Fenders] games definitely helped me to work on stuff that I could transfer over when I got time in the League. The game is a little different between the levels, but it helped slow the game down for me and it sped up my process of becoming a good player in this league.”
With Clarkson proving his worth during his rookie season, and being named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team as a result, the 23-year-old guard will likely remain a starter for the Lakers moving forward.
Although nothing is set in stone at this point in time, Coach Scott has said that Clarkson will more than likely be the team’s starting shooting guard next season. Kobe Bryant would shift to small forward while rookie D’Angelo Russell takes Clarkson’s spot as the starting point guard for the Lakers.[divide]