After securing his long-term future with a four-year deal last summer, Jordan Clarkson’s third season with the Los Angeles Lakers officially came to an end on Wednesday. Clarkson put forth a solid effort during the 2016-17 campaign as one of the few players on the Lakers roster able to stay healthy and play in all 82 games for head coach Luke Walton while still producing in the multiple roles he had to adjust to over the course of the season.
Following his exit interview with the Lakers brass, Clarkson talked about what it was like playing under Walton this season and made the following statement about the first-year head coach:
Clarkson says Luke is "the definition of a player’s coach"
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) April 13, 2017
Obviously, with the Lakers only winning a total of 26 games, this season was a forgettable one. Despite failing to end the playoff drought or taking a giant leap forward this year, Walton did earn the respect of his players while notching nine more wins than last season without Kobe Bryant on the roster.
Coaching the Lakers in the first season without Bryant on the team was going to be a tall task for anyone let alone someone who has never done the job before. There was bound to be plenty of ups and downs throughout the course of his rookie season as a head coach and that there was, but Walton sparked optimism for the future with talented young players like Clarkson helping lead the way.
Clarkson is only one of many players on this Lakers squad that have praised Walton for how he handles his players and his coaching ability. As long as Walton can keep the locker room together and all focused on one goal along with earning the respect of his players, the future may very well be bright in Los Angeles with the potential for progress moving forward.