Throughout most of the early part of this season, arguably the biggest strength of the Los Angeles Lakers was their bench unit. Led by Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson, the Lakers’ bench was the highest scoring in the NBA and could completely change the game.
With Williams now gone, however, the Lakers have now lost the leading bench scorer in the NBA, and their leading scorer at the time he was dealt. This certainly changes the dynamic of the bench unit, especially for Clarkson.
According to Bill Oram of the OC Register, Clarkson is embracing the increased role with Williams gone and is even feeling more comfortable:
“I feel more comfortable just because there’s a lot of opportunities out there,” Clarkson said. “It’s coming back to you and stuff like that, the ball is. When you’re in that situation, you can make more plays for your teammates. You don’t relax. But you can kind of see the game and it kinds of comes to you instead of forcing it and being aggressive.”
Clarkson added that he and Williams had great chemistry, but he has more opportunity now:
“We had it flowing, me and him,” Clarkson said of Williams. “We had to balance what we had to do. But it definitely opens up a lot more stuff for me with him gone in terms of opportunity.”
There is no doubt that the pressure will be on Clarkson to produce off the bench even more so now that Williams is gone. Not only that, but with Brandon Ingram in the starting lineup now, Clarkson will be relied upon more to get others involved as opposed to strictly focusing on scoring.
Clarkson has proven in the past that he can be a playmaker and the Lakers coaches have been pushing him to get back into that mode. If he can take a step forward in that direction, the Lakers will be a much better team.