Jordan Clarkson becomes first Lakers player to win Rookie of the Month

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The Lakers have been one of the most storied franchises in NBA history, but have fallen on hard times over the past few seasons.

When you’re winning championships at an historic rate and competing for them on a seemingly annual basis, not only will your draft position not allow for high quality rookies to enter the fold, but even if they were to somehow find their way onto the roster, there would be very few minutes available for them to play behind the veteran talent that has traditionally led L.A. on a consistent title chase.

Jordan Clarkson has been perhaps the lone bright spot during this current dismal Lakers campaign, a rookie who was drafted in the middle of the second round by the Washington Wizards and was acquired by the Lakers for nothing more than cash considerations. He was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for March, which marked the first time any Lakers player has ever come away with that honor.

From the official release:

Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson has been named Kia NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month for games played in March, it was announced today, becoming the first ever Laker to be honored with the award (first presented in 1981-82).

In 16 games in March, Clarkson averaged a team-leading 15.8 points on 45.2% shooting, in addition to 5.2 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. The 46th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft (acquired from Washington) also scored the winning points in overtime in the final second of two games with a layup March 30 at Philadelphia, and the clinching free throws in a tied game March 25 at Minnesota.

In the March 30 contest, Clarkson joined Stephen Curry, John Wall, and Russell Westbrook as the only players in the NBA this season to record a game of at least 26 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, and three steals. On the road in Oklahoma City March 24, Clarkson set career-highs with 30 points and three blocks, becoming the first Laker rookie since Eddie Jones (2/4/95) to score 30 points in a game.

Since being named a starter 31 games ago, the 22-year-old is averaging a team-leading 15.0 points per game to go with 4.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 0.87 steals.

The Lakers have Clarkson under contract for next season, on a non-guaranteed deal that will pay him less than $900K. While the team is going to do its best to load up with star talent in free agency, expect Clarkson to be back, as he’s one of the few young and talented players L.A. has in place on the roster.

Lonzo Ball finishes one-handed alley-oop on Willie Cauley-Stein (video)

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So much attention is paid to Lonzo Ball‘s father, jumper and passes. Those are the major storylines for the Lakers rookie.

But he has such a diverse skill set, and this is absolutely part of it. Ball is a savvy off-ball cutter in the halfcourt with the athleticism to get above the rim and finish alley-oops.

But finish them over 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who was tracking the play (though slightly late)? That’s an eye-opener, even in the Kings’ 113-102 win.

Marc Gasol makes 3/4-court shot just after buzzer (video)

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When Marc Gasol‘s 3/4-court attempt went through the net, it seemed to barely matter the ball left his hands just after the first-quarter buzzer. After all, the Grizzlies led the Mavericks by 15, anyway.

Turns out, Memphis really needed that basket.

Watch Knicks string together 28-0 run against Raptors

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Toronto has been the second best team in the East this young season. Not that anyone is really convinced they will be called that by the time we get to the playoffs (or even the All-Star break, or even Christmas), but for the first 16-18 games of the season their new move-the-ball offense had them at 11-5 and looking solid.

Wednesday night the Knicks dismantled the Raptors.

Especially in the third quarter when the Knicks went on a 28-0 run to blow the doors off the Raptors (video above). The Knicks dominated the third 41-10, when Toronto shot just 1-of-16 from the floor.

New York is gaining confidence with each win this season, they are a fun team to watch that is starting to find an identity (now that a certain three-sided shaped one is not being forced upon them). Kristaps Porzingis is a monster, and while the Knicks overpaid the market for Tim Hardaway Jr. he has lived up to his contract this season. With rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina showing some nice defense and playmaking skills as a rookie (although he is undoubtedly still a work in progress), you can see a path to a strong future unfolding. There are real reasons for hope in New York. Someone just keep James Dolan distracted and away from the basketball operations side of the building.

Devin Booker forces OT with deep turnaround buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but Bucks beat Suns (video)

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I’m not sure who benefited from Devin Booker‘s buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing 3-pointer. The Suns still lost to the Bucks, 113-107. The extra five minutes featured more of the same relatively bad basketball we’d seen between Phoenix (bad) and Milwaukee (shorthanded) through 48 minutes.

But darn if this shot wasn’t really cool and clutch.