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.