MANILA, Philippines – Many thought the Los Angeles Lakers had a productive 2014 NBA Draft solely on the basis of selecting Kentucky Wildcats star Julius Randle with the no. 7 overall pick.
But it now looks like the Lakers found more talent than originally thought with the impressive rise of Fil-Am guard Jordan Clarkson, who Los Angeles attained in the second round of the draft.
Clarkson, originally taken by the Washington Wizards with the no. 46 overall pick and later traded to the Lakers, has apparently been turning the heads of his teammates and coaches during the Lakers’ training camp for the 2014-2015 NBA season, which begins on October 29 (PH time).
The Lakers’ best player and future NBA Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant was particularly impressed by the play of Clarkson, whom Bryant called “a steal of a pick.”
“Great pace, great feel for the game… Can shoot the deep ball,” Bryant told LakersNation.com reporter Serena Winters.
Lakers.com reporter Mike Trudell echoed the same message delivered by Kobe through Twitter:
“Asked who’s impressed him in camp, Kobe mentioned rookie Jordan Clarkson, saying how surprised he is that Clarkson fell to LAL in the draft,” tweeted Trudell.
Asked who's impressed him in camp, Kobe mentioned rookie Jordan Clarkson, saying how surprised he is that Clarkson fell to LAL in the draft.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 2, 2014
Though impressed with the Fil-Am guard, that didn’t stop Bryant from putting forth his version of rookie initiation as he broke Clarkson’s ankles during a scrimmage in training camp and told him afterwards, “Don’t hurt yourself.”
“Don't hurt yourself” – Kobe Bryant going baseline at practice #lakers #LakeShow
Clarkson spent the first two years of his college career in the United States playing for Tulsa before transferring to Missouri, where he averaged 17.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 3.4 APG in his final season with the Tigers (35 games).
Despite the standard of second-round picks playing limited minutes in their rookie campaigns, it looks like Clarkson will get to break that norm and garner a chance to portray his skills once the season begins.
With Kobe Bryant already 36-years-old and coming off major achilles and knee injuries, there’s a chance new Lakers head coach Byron Scott may sit him out a few games such as back-to-backs. The same goes for 40-year-old Steve Nash, who saw limited playing time in the 2013-2014 NBA season due to a nerve issue in his back.
It was also recently revealed that the Lakers’ top scorer from last season, Nick Young, tore a ligament in his right hand during practice and could miss up to one month once the season begins.
The aforementioned issues will give Clarkson the opportunity to take advantage of available playing time and earn a consistent spot in Scott’s rotation.
The Lakers play on Opening Night of the upcoming NBA season when they take on the Houston Rockets. – Rappler.com
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