Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson is more focused on the court

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson dribbles past Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. on Thursday.
(Nick Wass / Associated Press)

Jordan Clarkson was at the top of the Fendi headquarters this summer in the Palazzo della Civilta Italiana in Rome, goofing off on the set of a fashion shoot when he thought he messed it all up. Fendi had built a basketball court on the roof for the shoot, but Clarkson’s antics knocked out the lights.

It didn’t ruin the shoot or an unforgettable experience for the fashion junkie.

“That was like one of my dopest things that I’ve done,” Clarkson said. “Going all the way out there, just the whole experience, I’ve never been there. It’s a beautiful place.”


Clarkson partnered with the luxury fashion brand for their F is for Fendi campaign during a bit of a strange offseason. It was an offseason during which the business side of his chosen profession crystallized for him. Clarkson still has his fun, but because of that he’s approached the season differently than he had in past seasons. It’s showing in his play, where his coaches are seeing a new focus on defense and his scoring is among the best in the NBA coming off the bench.

“You don’t really understand that until you’ve been around for a while you see guys get traded,” Clarkson said. “People that are close to you. Shoot. My last three years I walked into a locker room and seen all new faces. It’s not nothing new for me. Now it’s just part of the business. Come in, put on this jersey, play for your teammates and try to get wins.”

One of his best friends on the team, D’Angelo Russell, was traded a few months after another close friend, Lou Williams, was traded. Another pal, Nick Young, left in free agency, chasing wins as a veteran.

To top it off, he learned that the Lakers considered trading him by reading reports online.

“To me it’s motivation,” Clarkson said of the trade rumors. “It’s a business, you’re either going to be here or you ain’t. Wherever I am I want to be productive.”

He has been for the Lakers so far this season. As of Sunday, Clarkson had scored the third-most bench points in the NBA this season with 192. His 14.8 points per game rank sixth among players coming off the bench in the NBA. He’s also the Lakers’ third-leading scorer behind Brook Lopez and Kyle Kuzma.

“Just seems more focused and serious about what we’re doing. … Just his overall approach each day. Asking questions to the way he’s been practicing. The effort he’s been giving on defense for the most part is a huge step up from last year. Just his overall presence around the court,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said.

What the future holds for Clarkson, he isn’t sure. But he knows what he can control and is making the best of that. He’s worked to embrace the challenge presented to him by the organization to reach for being the league’s sixth man of the year.

Because of that, Clarkson has exuded a carefree confidence this season. It’s one that doesn’t keep him from showing that same goofy personality that knocked out the lights on the set of the fashion shoot this summer.


It appeared for a moment when Clarkson was asked if there is someone for whom he wants to succeed.

“I mean my pops, my family, that’s always No. 1,” Clarkson said. “But second probably the girls and stuff. Females. Know what I mean? I love women.”

He chuckled mischievously as he added: “They don’t like you when you’re down.”

Ball insecurity

In the five games leading up to their first multi-game trip, the Lakers had done a pretty good job of avoiding turnovers. They were in the teens most games and committed only 11 turnovers in Portland.

That’s changed starting with Wednesday’s game in Boston. In the past three games, they’ve averaged more than 20 turnovers per game. The Lakers committed a season-high 23 turnovers against the Bucks and Milwaukee scored 17 points off those turnovers. Thirteen of Milwaukee’s points off turnovers came in the second half.

“One of the characteristics we want to have is that we value the ball and we don’t turn it over very often, especially on the road,” Walton said. “Unfortunately this road trip has not been good for that. That makes it really hard to win when you turn over that much and obviously throw the free throws on top. You still have your chance, but you’ve got to play a pretty perfect game besides that.”


Kuzma has had four 20-point games and four double-doubles this season. He and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell are the only rookies in the NBA to have accomplished that. … The Lakers have won only one of their six road games this season but are 4-2 at home. … In a tweet this week, Larry Nance Jr. said he is already able to do a weight-room workout. Nance suffered a broken hand on November 2. It is a second metacarpal fracture that is expected to keep him out for four to six weeks.

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Update: The Lakers are on a three-game road losing streak. Their only road win this year came in Phoenix the day after their season opener. In that game, Lonzo Ball nearly recorded a triple-double. He had 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. The Suns have since fired coach Earl Watson and traded their point guard, Eric Bledsoe, to the Bucks.

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli