JORDAN Clarkson got the vote of confidence from the Los Angeles Lakers in making him the designated sixth man with veteran Lou Williams dealt in the trade deadline, and the Fil-Am guard has repaid the team's trust by thriving in his new role.
Prior to the deal that sent Williams to the Houston Rockets for Corey Brewer and a first round pick last week, the duo was relied on to provide the Lakers’ scoring punch off the bench. But with Williams out of the picture, Clarkson feels empowered by the added responsibility of leading the Lakers’ reserves.
“With Lou gone, a lot of stuff is going to be run through me,” Clarkson told The Orange County Register. “Just trying to make plays for my teammates. At the same time, scoring the ball when I have a chance.”
So far, Clarkson has responded positively in his larger role. In the two games after the trade, the third-year guard has averaged 16.5 points and 3.5 assists, an improvement to his season per game averages of 13.9 points and 2.1 assists.
“Jordan has done a nice job of being aggressive to score and also trusting his teammates,” said LA coach Luke Walton. “He knows the coaching staff wants to see him be a playmaker.”
The Lakers also refused to include Clarkson in any deadline trade talks, and he is grateful with the opportunity to improve his playmaking skills even more with the team.
“I just try not to force stuff, knowing the ball is going to come back,” Clarkson said. “I’m trying to look for my teammates, trying to make plays and when the shots come, just take them.”