Jordan Clarkson won’t mind if Lakers get another point guard
If the Lakers signed Rajon Rondo or Goran Dragic in free agency, an increasingly important player wouldn’t fret.
Jordan Clarkson also said he wouldn’t be bothered if the Lakers drafted a promising young point guard in June, be it D’Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay.
Clarkson has been a revelation in his rookie season and continues to do so with his bottom-line desire to stop all the losing. Even if it means making room for another point guard.
“You always want to be surrounded by good players. I think it would be awesome,” Clarkson said. “Or even one of the younger [draft] guys too. It’s going to help us win games.”
Rondo’s credentials are well-known. The slick passer helped Boston to the 2008 NBA championship and was the centerpiece of a Celtics trade with Dallas this season. His shooting, though, has never been consistent, a continuing trend this season too — 42% field-goal percentage and 36% free-throw accuracy.
Dragic was the foundation of a trade from Phoenix to Miami, bringing with him the dual ability to pass or score, though he made clear with the Suns he would rather be a point guard than a shooting guard.
If the Lakers traded for either player in July, Clarkson would slide over to shooting guard. It might also happen if they pick one of the top rookie point guards.
“I wouldn’t have a problem with it,” Clarkson said. “We have a pretty open offense. Our offense is made for two point guards. We’ve been running Jeremy [Lin] and me together.”
The Lakers are slotted to pick fourth overall in the June draft, though that could change for better or worse at the May 19 lottery. If two teams pass the Lakers in the lottery, they lose their top-five protected pick because of the Steve Nash trade.
Two point guards have differentiated themselves.
Russell recently finished his freshman season at Ohio State, where he averaged 19.3 points and five assists and drew comparisons to a taller Chris Paul.
Less is known about Mudiay, who ditched plans to attend Southern Methodist as a freshman so he could play pro basketball in China. But he was slowed by an ankle injury and couldn’t play as often as NBA personnel directors hoped.
Meanwhile, Clarkson has averaged 15.3 points and 4.9 assists in 36 games as the Lakers’ starting point guard.
His learning arc remains extremely high. Sometimes it’s evident there’s plenty to do.
He wasn’t thrilled after the Lakers’ loss Wednesday in Denver, starting three for 13 from the field and finishing with four turnovers in 35 minutes.
On one play, he had the ball stolen near the three-point line by Kenneth Faried, then compounded the problem by fouling Faried in the open court for a clear-path foul. Faried made both free throws and the Nuggets got the ball back.
“Yeah, he’s still learning. He didn’t play well [Wednesday],” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said. “He made a ton of mistakes on both ends of the floor.
“Just because you’re a rookie and it’s coming toward the end of the season and you’ve played a ton of games, you’ve still got a long ways to go. He still is in that mode. He’s still nowhere near where he’ll be probably at this time next year.”
Clarkson, however, was better Friday against Minnesota, finishing with 18 points, nine assists, six rebounds and four steals in a 106-98 Lakers victory.
Lakers’ lottery balls
Forget playoff pushes. No Lakers title parades this June. The real race is for a bottom-five draft pick that the Lakers don’t have to give to the Philadelphia 76ers. The regular season ends April 15, the draft lottery is May 19 and the NBA draft is June 25. Below are standings of the five worst teams after Saturday’s games and odds to land the No. 1 overall pick, which will be Duke center Jahlil Okafor until further notice:
No. Team (Record) Pct.
T1. New York (16-64) 22.45%
T1. Minnesota (16-64) 22.45%
3. Philadelphia (18-62) 15.6%
4. Lakers (21-58) 11.9%
5. Orlando (25-55) 10.3%
Up next for Lakers
Sunday vs. Dallas
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.
Records: Lakers 21-58, Mavericks 48-31.
Record vs. Mavericks: 0-3.
Update: The Lakers had never been swept in a season series by Dallas until last season. It might happen again, though Dallas is locked into the seventh spot in the Western Conference playoffs and has started resting players. Rajon Rondo and Chandler Parsons did not play in the Mavericks’ 144-143 double-overtime victory over Denver on Friday.
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