With the Los Angeles Lakers dealing with a ton of injuries and the season quickly going downhill as the team slipped further away from any hopes of a playoff spot, head coach Byron Scott made the decision to insert second-round pick Jordan Clarkson into the starting lineup. The result has been the best season for a Lakers rookie since Eddie Jones in 1994.
As a starter, Clarkson is averaging 15 points, 4.7 assists, and 4.2 rebounds. Clarkson was recently named Western Conference Rookie of the Month in March when he averaged 15.8 points, 5.2 assist, and 4.8 rebounds on 45 percent from the field.
Clarkson’s play has really gotten the attention of everyone around the league as he has had some impressive games against top-tier competition. The Memphis Grizzlies were forced to put Tony Allen on him when he scored a then-career high 25 points. He broke that career-high against MVP-candidate Russell Westbrook when dropped 30 on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Most recently, Clarkson recorded his first two career double-doubles and followed that up with a 27-7-5 night against Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers. With the season winding down, the question now becomes whether Clarkson has done enough since becoming a starter to earn all-rookie honors.
So we asked our panel of experts whether they believe Jordan Clarkson has done enough to make All-Rookie First Team. This is what they had to say:
Kevin Chan (@Kevin_Cruiser): This year’s rookie class was heralded as an all-time great class, but hasn’t lived up to expectations yet. Outside of Andrew Wiggins and maybe Elfrid Payton, none of the other rookies have clearly shown All-Star potential.
I think Jordan Clarkson has definitely done enough to earn a spot on the All-Rookie 1st Team. As a starter he’s averaged 15 points, 4.7 assists and 4.2 rebounds which are stellar numbers for a rookie. I’d actually place him as the third best rookie performer this year just behind Wiggins and Payton.
Give Clarkson credit for outperforming guards like Dante Exum, Marcus Smart, Nik Stauskas and Zach LaVine who were all drafted well ahead of him in the lottery. The Lakers front office should give themselves a pat on the back for picking up Clarkson with the 46th overall pick. Clarkson has a bright future ahead of him and hopefully he’ll help the Lakers become an elite team once again.
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): Four spots on the All-Rookie team seem to be locks with Andrew Wiggins, Nikola Mirotic, Nerlens Noel, and Elfrid Payton having incredible seasons. The fifth and final spot is up for grabs, and Jordan Clarkson is definitely deserving of the spot.
Ever since taking over starting point guard duties, Clarkson has been one of the best rookies in the league. His play has really elevated since the All-Star break and he has climbed up the rookie rankings. In that span, his 16.2 points per game ranks third among rookies while his 5.1 assists is good for second. Wiggins and Mirotic are scoring more, and Payton delivers more assists.
One of the things working against Clarkson is the Lakers’ losing records. Other rookies such as Marcus Smart and Bojan Bogdanovic have been playing well for teams fighting for playoff spots. However, it’s hard to ignore the growth Clarkson has shown throughout the season.
Despite not coming in with high expectations, Clarkson’s play has gotten significantly better as year went on. If there was a re-draft, Clarkson wouldn’t be a second-round pick and has earned his way as a solid lottery pick. There’s still plenty of room for him to grow. It wouldn’t shock me if Clarkson plays his way into one of the best players from the 2014 Draft.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): Jordan Clarkson has been easily one of the best rookies since the All-Star Break, and arguably the Lakers’ best player in the last month or so. Andrew Wiggins, Nerlens Noel, Elfrid Payton, and Nikola Mirotic are locks for the All-Rookie team, and I believe Clarkson will find himself right beside them.
The main worry about Clarkson making first-team is the fact that he hardly touched the floor early in the season. Guys like Zach LaVine, Marcus Smart, and Bojan Bogdanovic have been getting consistent minutes all season for their respective teams. While they have all had their moments, none has looked like a possible future All-Star the way Clarkson has.
Clarkson has gone head-up with some of the best point guards in the NBA and held his own more often than not. Furthermore he has only gotten better as the season has gone on. He dropped a career high 30 points on Russell Westbrook, and back-to-back double-doubles this past week is proof of his growth as a true point guard.
The race for that final spot will be close, and Clarkson’s lack of minutes could come back to haunt him, but overall he has had more of an impact than any of his other competitors and that should be enough to place him on the All-Rookie First Team.
Nathan Kim (@Kimchiz): I absolutely believe that Jordan Clarkson should be on the All-Rookie 1st team. Clarkson has been playing exceptionally well as of late. Over the span of ten games Clarkson is averaging around 17 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds. These are very good numbers especially for a rookie.
It took him a number of games to find his confidence and to play his style of basketball. Clarkson has a season average of 23.4 minutes compared to 31.1 minutes from Nerlens Noel or even 24.8 minutes from Andrew Wiggins.
The general consensus is that the All-Rookie 1st team will consist of Andrew Wiggins, Nicola Mirotic, Elfrid Payton, and Nerlens Noel. Clarkson could take the last spot available, and I think he should. He is competing with the likes of Zach LaVine, Marcus Smart, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Jusuf Nurkic.
I would take Clarkson for that last spot over any of these players, except for perhaps Marcus Smart, simply on the basis of stats. Still, I believe Clarkson has showed more promise
than Smart especially over the last ten games and should therefore be given the honors over him.
Some argue that Clarkson is a Spring sensation, and that his numbers are just a fluke. I believe Clarkson is the real deal. He has certainly been a steal for the Lakers as a second round draft pick, and is one of the very few bright spots this season.
Not only is he a solid player on the Lakers roster, but his numbers compare with the best of the rookies around the league. I think it is gratifying for Laker fans to see a glimpse of the future. Clarkson is emerging as a prominent player and he has earned the right to be on the All-Rookie 1st Team.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): No question. Jordan Clarkson has far exceeded expectations in his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers and has proven that he deserves consideration to be on the All-Rookie First Team.
Along with proving his worth to be on the All-Rookie squad, I believe he needs at least some recognition for NBA Rookie of the Year. Although it seems to be a foregone conclusion that Andrew Wiggins will win the award, Clarkson has done enough during his time as a starter to be in the conversation.
As of Weds. April 1, Clarkson is third in the league among rookies in scoring at 10.7 points per game. Only Langston Galloway (11.3) of the New York Knicks and the Timberwolves’ Wiggins (16.2) are ahead of him in that category. Clarkson is also fourth in free-throw shooting percentage (83.1) and eighth in field-goal percentage (44.0).
Impressive numbers for a second-round draft pick that has become a starter in the second half of the season.
In 31 games as a starter, Clarkson is averaging 15 points per contest to go along with 4.7 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. It’d be hard to make a case against him being in the conversation for the Rookie of the Year let alone All-Rookie First Team.[divide]
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