The NBA Draft is stupid. I wrote this already about the Wizards because that's who picked him, but here's my revision about the Lakers:
With some impressive shooting in the pre-draft workouts, helped by skills coach Drew Hanlen*, Jordan Clarkson started moving himself into a potential first round spot. Jeff Goodman tweeted:
Missouri's Jordan Clarkson has a good chance of being chosen in the 1st round after talking to numerous NBA execs: http://t.co/6GXOj0UeOu— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 31, 2014
The improved shooting is what got Clarkson into that conversation for the first round. He was already labeled as a rangy athletic combo guard. He measured out well as a legit 6'5 with long arms and explosive quickness. His ability to potentially grow into a really exciting point guard is what the Lakers found exciting. But the NBA draft is a funny thing however and Clarkson couldn't quite squeak into the first round as a lot of teams, looking to avoid salary cap implications with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony potentially out there, decided to take young international players that they could "stash" for a few years and not have to pay them.
Clarkson goes to a team with an aging superstar, in Kobe Bryant, coming off an injury and a team searching for an identity. Is Steve Nash coming back? How much does Pau Gasol still have left? The Lakers have some youth with Kendall Marshall at the Point Guard spot, but Marshall is no world beater and the Lakers are looking for a player to entrench themselves long term at the PG spot. And Clarkson can do that. A big problem though is that a 2nd round selection means that you do not have a guaranteed contract going into the season next year. Clarkson has to overcome that.
I like this pick because: Clarkson is heading to a team with established leadership in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash. All those players are on their last legs but sometimes a little youth can give them legs to extend a career. There are some guys on the roster but nobody that can't be beaten out for a spot. Clarkson is the kind of player than be be a face for the new Lakers.
I don't like this pick because: LA is a tough market, and a place that can eat the young of any professional franchise. One of Clarksons biggest issues during his time at Mizzou was his ability to play through adversity. Growing up on the court at the Staples Center is center stage and then some. Clarkson has the talent, but he mostly likely won't get to nurse his ability like a delicate flower in that atmosphere. And Kobe is a tough competitor, and sometimes a tougher teammate.
Even though he went later than he'd hoped, he's still high on a lot of people's list of surprises:
I think Jordan Clarkson is going to be a steal whenever he gets picked.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) June 27, 2014
Well, let's hope Borzello is right and Jordan has a long career in Los Angeles.
*Full disclosure, I coached Drew at Webster Groves High School. Really happy for him as he's a great kid and the hardest worker I've ever met. I probably wouldn't have included that link if I didn't know him.