Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson started private workouts with Steve Nash during January of 2015, after injuries forced Nash to be ruled out for the 2014-15 season. It started as film work, then transitioned to more hands-on training in about 30-minute sessions, with some lasting up to two hours. The two worked on a variety of things, mostly centering on how to slow the game down for Clarkson, enable him to make better decisions and create space for himself.
After several DNP stints and multiple assignments to the NBA D-League with the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Clarkson was then named a starter for the final 38 games of the season, averaging a team-leading 15.8 points per game on 45.8 percent shooting to go with 5.0 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.05 steals. Most importantly, we were able to see the development and progress of a young rookie who could very well be an integral piece of the Lakers future.
Nash, who spent quite a bit of time with Clarkson, raved about the 23-year-old’s work ethic and personality in an interview with LakersNation.com at the Harold & Carole Pump Foundation gala.
I think he’s very humble and hard working, but he has confidence. He has that security in himself to say, ‘Okay, I don’t know everything, I’m going to learn where I can, and try to get better and use every tool.’ He has a lot of wisdom for a young player.”
That wisdom earned Clarkson Kia NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors for his stretch of games played in the month of March, after averaging a team-leading 15.8 points on 45.2 percent shooting, in addition to 5.2 assists, and 4.8 rebounds, becoming the first-ever Laker to be honored with the award (first presented in 1981-82).
The No. 46 draft pick’s success didn’t stop there. After an impressive finish to his rookie season, Clarkson was also named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team, only the fifth second-round pick in the past 30 years to receive the honor, and joined fellow Lakers Eddie Jones, Vlade Divac, Byron Scott, James Worthy, Magic Johnson, Norm Nixon, Brian Winters, Jim Price, Dick Garrett, and Bill Hewitt, in addition to 1958-59 of the Year Elgin Baylor.
Nash attributes Clarkson’s success to his “work ethic and personality” and only expects it to grow.
He’s a great person, first of all, and I think he’s a really talented basketball player and incredibly coachable and works hard. I think the sky’s the limit for him.”
The two have yet to hit the court together this summer, although Clarkson told LakersNation.com that he hopes he can get some work in with both Nash and Kobe Bryant before the summer’s end. Nash has yet to work out with Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell, though Clarkson hinted at that being a possibility earlier this summer.
That’s exciting for Laker fans to have two guys, D’Angelo (Russell) and Jordan (Clarkson), both big guards that can handle the ball and it’s kind of a fascinating and exciting backcourt for the future here.”
As far as Nash’s time with the Lakers, he doesn’t shy away from talking about how much of a disappointment it was. It’s clear by the tone in his voice how difficult it’s been for him on a personal level, coming in with championship hopes, only to have the final years of his career dictated by injury.
But, when he steps back and looks at it from another perspective, he’s still able to appreciate what a “phenomenal” experience being a Laker was, commending the Buss family and everyone he worked with.
The fans were unbelievable to me, the organization was unbelievable to me and my memories and the relationships I made in the building over in El Segundo (Lakers training facility) are relationships I’ll keep for a lifetime.”
Though Nash is enjoying his retirement, which includes a lot of time spent growing Meathawk, a production company he shares with his cousin, he says he’s still figuring out how to approach the next chapter of his life, which he called both “terrifying” and “exciting.” Hopefully, he can fit in a few more workouts with the Lakers youngins, too.[divide]