Lakers Nation Roundtable: Jordan Clarkson Changing Team’s Focus In Off-Season?
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since getting his opportunity in the starting lineup for the Los Angeles Lakers, rookie Jordan Clarkson has flashed serious potential as a long-time contributor for the franchise. Clarkson’s averages of about 14 points, four rebound, and four assists as a starter are very solid and he has only improved as the season has gone on.

While Clarkson began the season looking like a pure scorer, he has shown improving point guard skill, something that can likely be attributed to his workouts with the recently retired Steve Nash. Clarkson’s assist numbers have steadily increased and his 30-4-7 night against Russell Westbrook and the Thunder turned heads around the league.

The Lakers will be looking to make some roster upgrades over the summer, but Clarkson figures to be a part of the Lakers’ future, but there are still questions as to whether Clarkson is really a long-term point guard. If the Lakers feel like Clarkson is their solution at that position they could choose to focus elsewhere in the draft and free agency.

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So we asked our panel of experts if the Lakers should operate under the assumption that Jordan Clarkson is the point guard of the future. This is what they had to say:

Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): At this point in time, I think it is too early to speculate on whether Jordan Clarkson will be the point guard of the future for the Lakers. Clarkson is talented, there’s no doubting that, but I believe he should be considered nothing more than a backup moving forward.

Heading into the off-season, the Lakers will have quite a few options to upgrade the point guard position. The results of the 2015 NBA draft lottery will be telling with the Lakers in position to land a pick within the top five. If they get the fifth pick or higher, there’s two options the Lakers might have to draft a point guard with a lot of potential to be a star on the NBA level.

D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay will be two of the most talked about players heading into the draft in June. Both players could be considered combo guards and are expected to be drafted in the top five. Clarkson is also a player capable of playing both positions in the backcourt making him versatile and valuable.

Even if the Lakers don’t draft Russell or Mudiay, the team will likely pursue some of the top tier point guards on the free agent market this summer. The Lakers are reportedly interested in pursuing Rajon Rondo and Goran Dragic. Both players have expressed interest in signing with the Lakers or are at least open to the idea.

Personally, I believe the Lakers will get another point guard this off-season one way or the other. If the team is fortunate enough to land Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns, the focus will be on upgrading the backcourt in free agency. If they end up with Russell or Mudiay, they may go after Greg Monroe, Omer Asik or DeAndre Jordan in free agency.

Either way, Clarkson will be coming off the bench next season or possibly sharing time in the starting lineup with a rookie or veteran guard. Clarkson is as promising a player as the Lakers have on the current roster, including Julius Randle, but I’m not sold on the prospect of the Missouri product being the point guard of the future in Los Angeles.

Nathan Kim (@Kimchiz): From what I have seen this season, Clarkson is truly blossoming into a great player. I really like his aggression on both ends of the court. It is precisely this kind of competitiveness that I think Laker fans want to see. I think that the Lakers should really invest in Clarkson and watch him develop into one of the premier guards in the league.

However, I think that the Lakers should get the best prospect available to them. The top prospects in this year’s draft include the likes of Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, Emmanuel Mudiay, and D’Angelo Russell. If the Lakers are able to keep their pick, I believe they should get the best player they can possibly get. I think that talent is worth more than a potential position the player can fill.

In fact, I believe that the Lakers need help at every position. Even with the continual emergence of Jordan Clarkson at the point guard position, I don’t think the addition of another talented guard would hurt the Lakers.

It just so happens however, that the top two prospects of the drafts are both front court players in Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns. If one of these two talented players are available by the time the Lakers can draft, then I think that the Lakers should draft them.

However, it is not a question of the type of position they play, but rather their talent. Even if the Lakers were to draft another guard like D’Angelo Russell, I think he could play well with Clarkson as he is a great shooter. At this point, the Laker’s roster is in dire need of talent period and they should acquire the best talent they can.

Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): If the Lakers are fortunate enough to keep their pick in the top-5, they should undoubtedly take the best player available as it tends to not be the best idea to draft for need that high in the draft. That being said, Clarkson’s development at the point guard does lead me to believe that the Lakers can focus on other needs first.

The Lakers are in dire need of defensive help, both on the wing and in the paint. Focusing on getting a true rim protector at the center position is a must. Just as important is a two-way small forward who can match up with the league’s best.

There are a number of options in both the draft and free agency to fill both of those needs. The draft not only has Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns as big men at the top, but Jakob Poeltl and Robert Upshaw later. The same goes for wings as Stanley Johnson and Justise Winslow are possibilities early in the first, but Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Sam Dekker could be available near the end.

Free Agency has the likes of DeAndre Jordan, Greg Monroe, Khris Middleton and Tobias Harris who could be targets for the Lakers and change their fortunes.

The Lakers do have needs everywhere and should acquire or draft whoever the best talent is, but Clarkson’s development and potential should push that position slightly down the ladder for more pressing needs.

Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): Jordan Clarkson has shown promise all season, especially since being inserted into the starting lineup. He’s been able to hold his own against other starting point guards which is no easy task in today’s NBA. With continued growth, I could see him as the future point guard for years to come.

After working out with Steve Nash, Clarkson has picked up some of the intricacies of being point guard. He has the ability to play both guard positions with his aggressiveness. Getting into the paint is no problem for Clarkson, and he has shown an improved effort to dish the ball in those situations instead of looking for the floater he relied on earlier on.

Clarkson will always have the ability to score. The more he gets used to the NBA, he will be able to draw in defenses more frequently. When that happens, his playmaking should find a way to shine.

The Lakers have other pressing needs to address in the off-season. For a coach that wants to stress defense, getting a rim-protector is vital. Trying to get a center to pair off with Julius Randle would be beneficial. Another area the Lakers need to improve lies along the perimeter. They should target getting a versatile small forward who can provide scoring.


Lakers Practice Footage: Byron Scott Hands On With Jordan Clarkson

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