As the Los Angeles Lakers’ season crumbled around itself and it became clear that the team would not be competing in the postseason, Mac McClung refused to miss his opportunity. The 2021-22 G League Rookie of the Year was signed to a two-way contract with the Lakers on April 8, with only two days remaining in the season.
But that didn’t deter McClung.
He entered the game early in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets and immediately made a difference for the Lakers. McClung used his youthful energy to spread out Denver’s defense as he was constantly running across the court and chucking passes to his teammates over the heads of Nuggets defenders.
McClung also had a huge block and steal, which led to easy points for Los Angeles. He refused to waste a single second on the court, and he capped his impressive performance with a reverse dunk that sealed the Lakers’ overtime win.
“I really didn’t think of it much, but all my friends and family said it was on all the websites and everything, which was cool,” McClung said. “But I tried to make the most out of the experience. It was great getting a win. It was a fun game to be a part of, so it was just a lot of joy.”
The 23-year-old was one of many young stars that joined in on the fun. It was a perfect way to end a disappointing season, as multiple role players reached career-high numbers in the last game of the year.
The South Bay Lakers guard averaged 21.6 points this season, along with 6.6 rebounds, 7.6 assists all while managing a mass social media following on Instagram and Twitter.
McClung, who has over 800 thousand followers on Instagram, and over 70 thousand on Twitter, said he finds both support and criticism from social media.
“I think social media can be a distraction for a lot of people and in my life it’s kind of been following me, good and bad,” McClung said. “I really don’t take it personally, I just worry about being the best version of myself each day and trying to grow each day in the right direction.
“I’m appreciative for people that support me and appreciative for people that don’t support me. So I just kind of stay the course and focus on myself.”
Rob Pelinka owns up to his part in tumultuous Lakers season
There’s plenty of blame to go around for the way this Lakers season went. Although former head coach Frank Vogel received the bulk of the blame, Vice President of Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka admitted he had something to do with the discouraging season.
“Listen, this was a disappointing Lakers season at every level,” Pelinka said. “I think in the face of disappointment, our fans expect more and that’s in every facet. It starts with the front office, led by me, and our ability to construct the right roster. It starts with the coaches holding players accountable and making sure that there’s on-court execution. It goes to our training staff doing everything they can to have healthy bodies on the court and it goes to our players to play with on-court execution at the highest level because that’s what Lakers fans expect and deserve from all of us.”
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