When the Los Angeles Lakers drafted Jordan Clarkson in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft not many people knew of him. Since then, Clarkson has been a bright spot for the team.
During his rookie campaign, he played very sparingly through the first half of the season but soon found himself starting at point guard for 38 games to end the season. During that time, he averaged 15.8 points and five assists per game which helped him earn NBA All-Rookie First Team honors. After a solid second season, the Lakers rewarded him with a new four-year contract worth $50 million dollars.
In an offseason, where a lot of change is surrounding the team, it can sometimes be difficult to focus solely on basketball. Earlier this summer, the Lakers were involved in trade talks with the Indiana Pacers regarding All-Star Paul George. The Lakers reportedly offered either Clarkson or Julius Randle and the 27th and 28th picks to the Pacers for George but Indiana instead traded George to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
According to Mark Medina of the Orange County Register Clarkson says despite the changes surrounding the team he is focused on improving his game and making the playoffs:
So good that Clarkson said “the main goal is to make the postseason.”
The Western Conference is the toughest it has been in a while. Along with the Golden State Warriors, the Houston Rockets added Chris Paul in a trade and the Thunder who will be led by the tandem of George and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook have added superstar talent to help take their respective teams to the next level.
The Lakers are a young team on the rise with immense potential but making the playoffs this year seems highly unlikely in a loaded Western Conference.
The good news for the Lakers is that they have solid foundation set in place and ample cap space to make a huge splash next summer. While making the postseason is good goal to reach, making sure the team’s young players develop should be the number one priority.