JORDAN Clarkson may have an uncertain future with the Los Angeles Lakers but for the upcoming season, team president Magic Johnson bared that they have lofty goals for the Fil-American guard.
Appearing on Clarkson’s basketball camp for kids in LA, Johnson said the former second-round pick is expected to have a major role off the bench for the Lakers. The Laker legend even shared his big challenge for the 25-year-old guard.
“Now we’re excited about our season. He’s gonna play a major role in us being a better team this year. We felt we put some weapons around him that would even make his game better,” Johnson said as reported by Lakers Nation’s Serena Winters.
“I have challenged him because I want him to be Sixth Man of the Year. I’ve challenged him to play like that, I think he has the potential, the talent, he’s worked hard this summer,” he added.
Clarkson averaged 14.7 points on 44.5% shooting (32.9% from beyond the arc) off the bench to go with 3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 steals in 29.2 minutes per game for the Lakers last year. Johnson hopes to see those numbers improve, especially on the defensive end, as he likened the fourth-year guard to one of his favorite teammates in Michael Cooper.
“Like I want Jordan (Clarkson) to do, Michael Cooper won the Sixth Man Award a couple times, and he was All-Defense every single year, because the boy was a bad, bad basketball player, such an unbelievable player,” the NBA great said.
“He was our sixth man, but you would believe he was our starter. And, he was on the court in the fourth quarter, sometimes it doesn’t matter if you start or not, it’s whether you’re in the game in the fourth quarter and guess who’s supposed to be in the game in the fourth quarter?” added Johnson, with the kids in the camp yelling out Clarkson’s name in response.
The Lakers, though, have not been shy in their plans of landing two max free agents next year. Clarkson is one of those rumored to be on the move to clear enough cap space to lure top free agents, as he is guaranteed $25.9 million for the next two years after the upcoming season.
Challenging Clarkson to win Sixth Man of the Year for the coming season seems to be a win-win move for the Lakers both in the short- and long-term, as the young guard could be inspired in putting up a breakthrough season that would improve the team’s performance and he could also draw some valuable assets in return for a possible trade.