Drafted by: Washington Wizards, 46th pick overall
Traded to: Los Angeles Lakers for cash
Height/Weight: 6'5", 186 lbs
Age: 22 years old
Projected NBA Position: Combo Guard
Pro Comparison: Tyreke Evans
Twitter Handle: @JClark5on
After transferring to Missouri and starting strong in 2013-14, Tulsa transfer Jordan Clarkson jumped into the NBA draft discussion.
While his late-season numbers couldn't keep pace with his early production, his emergence on the SEC stage was enough to show that he can make plays and attack at a high level.
With the size of a shooting guard and the quickness and creativity of a point, Clarkson will put NBA defenses on their heels. He can find his way to the rim in a variety of scenarios.
Although he didn't get the same level of hype as the top-tier guards in the 2014 draft, he could end up being equally dangerous, if not more so.
|Statistics at Tulsa/Missouri|
Clarkson's stature and athleticism are highly attractive qualities for someone who will spend substantial time at the point. He's 6'5" with shoes on and has a 6'8" wingspan, although his standing reach is a relatively modest 8'2".
His speed, agility and leaping are his most impressive physical tools.
His speed enables him to get in the lane, and he also has solid lateral quickness for the defensive side. Clarkson can bounce up there with the best athletes, noted by a registered 38.5-inch vertical leap at the NBA Draft Combine.
The bottom line is, he'll match up favorably with most point guards, and he also has enough size and speed to compete with wings a little.
Attacking the Rim/Slashing
Whether it's a transition opportunity or a crease in the half-court set, Clarkson loves to slash to the basket.
He has an appealing blend of ingenuity, quickness and scoring instincts to break down the first and second lines of defense on his way to the rim.
His aggressive driving is a big reason he scored 17.5 points for Missouri in 2013-14. When he gets near the rim, he uses his maneuverability and scoring touch to convert the bucket. NBADraft.net scout Michael Visenberg noted Clarkson has "really good body control, uses it to create space for opportunities and finishes well around the basket."
Point Guard Potential
Clarkson served as Missouri's primary initiator for much of 2013-14, and while he plays with a score-first mentality, he has the vision and passing skills to keep his comrades involved.
DraftExpress scout Matt Kamalsky breaks down the facilitator's skills:
Though he finished as the team's second leading scorer, he was its most important player offensively, charged with manufacturing shots for himself and others extensively on the pick and roll and in isolation situations, two things he did as frequently as almost any player in the country as the creative force behind much of what his team looked to do offensively. ... He does a nice job finding the open man, and will make some creative passes in drive and dish situations.
Although he probably won't unleash bucketloads of assists during his NBA career, he'll remain unpredictable for opponents because he can frequently generate opportunities for teammates.
Given his combination of athleticism and length, it looks like Clarkson will be able to guard multiple positions in the NBA.
His 6'8" wingspan should allow him to check most shooting guards, and his physical tools will capably cover most point guards. This will give him a chance to stay on the court long enough to showcase his talent on the other end.
He's not an overwhelmingly explosive defender and doesn't have the best instincts to force turnovers, but his size should help him hold down the fort in the NBA.
If Clarkson wants to be a proficient, legitimate combo guard and avoid being inept at either guard spot, he needs to upgrade two areas: outside shooting and turnovers.
Connecting from the perimeter is a valuable asset in the NBA, and he doesn't quite have command there yet. He shot 32 percent over his three collegiate seasons, and he has somewhat of a hitch in his shot.
As for the turnovers, well, they're an ugly price to pay for trusting him with the ball on a majority of possessions. Clarkson cut his giveaways down to 3.0 per 40 minutes in 2013-14, but that still left him with a 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is hardly what a coach likes to see in a potential floor general.
These two factors will largely determine whether he's a peripheral contributor or a featured weapon. In addition, it's not ideal that he's already 22.
Although he may not be ready to take the reins of his squad's offense in a major role, his energy and slashing ability should at least give him part-time duties.
Don't expect sparkling efficiency or robust production, but he'll intermittently make some noise off the bench.
Clarkson is already 22, so what you see right now isn't too far from what you'll get a few years from now. Remember, he spent four years in college (he sat out 2012-13 due to transfer).
However, now that he's a full-time pro, there's an opportunity to spend the entire offseason and first couple years honing his jump shot and ball-handling skills.
If he displays some consistency and range, his role will expand moving forward. It would allow the club to use him interchangeably at either backcourt position, and it would make him a more potent point guard because defenses would honor the jumper.
Don't be surprised if he refines his game enough to earn a key sixth-man spot. He could see 20 to 30 minutes per night in the right situation.