Height/Weight: 6'5", 193 lbs
Age: 22 years old
Projected NBA Position: Combo Guard
Pro Comparison: Tyreke Evans/Jerryd Bayless
Twitter Handle: @JClark5on
It was a bit of a shock to see Jordan Clarkson get passed on 45 times in the 2014 NBA draft. He'd been coming off a breakout year at Missouri after transferring from Tulsa, and his stock in most NBA circles seemed to be up following the combine in May.
It could mean very good news for the Los Angeles Lakers, who traded into this year's second round to snag Clarkson at No. 46 overall.
"I use that as motivation anytime I step out on the court," Clarkson told Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, referring to his slide down the board. "I always had that chip on my shoulder. It’s just a bigger one now that I got drafted low."
Clarkson has been impressive early on so far in Las Vegas Summer League, where he's averaging 18.6 points on a red-hot 7-of-14 shooting from downtown over his first three games.
Though the Lakers just acquired Jeremy Lin, Clarkson's versatility as a combo guard could be attractive to L.A. right now, while his long-term potential should make him a developmental project worth taking on.
|Statistics at Tulsa/Missouri|
At 6'5", 193 pounds, Clarkson's size helps differentiate him from other ball-handlers. He also has a broad set of shoulders and a terrific NBA body for a playmaker.
Clarkson possesses smooth athleticism with excellent change-of-direction ability. Though not overly explosive or quick, he's tough to stay in front of, while his 38.5" max vertical plays a role in his scoring prowess around the rim.
His 6'8" wingspan shouldn't cause too much trouble defensively for opposing 2-guards, but it could against smaller point guards.
Overall, Clarkson has a sharp set of physical tools that help drive his upside and versatility at both ends of the floor.
Clarkson does most of his damage on the way to the rim and in the lane. He uses screens well off the dribble with regard to turning the corner and gaining a step on his defender. And once he's beaten the perimeter defense, Clarkson is a dangerous weapon within 10-15 feet of the rim.
He converted 56 percent of his shots in "finishing situations," per DraftExpress, and 46 percent of his floaters. Clarkson has touch, along with the athleticism that allows him to contort his body and finish at awkward angles.
And though more of a scorer than a point guard, Clarkson has the awareness to find his open shooters in the drive-and-kick game.
Missouri's entire offense relied on Clarkson's playmaking ability with the ball in his hands. He can generate offense on his own, whether he's creating it from the point or scoring it from the wing.
As a facilitator, he's always a threat to penetrate, draw the help and find the open man. Clarkson isn't a pure point guard, but the threat he poses off the dribble naturally creates opportunities for teammates.
But it's his pick-and-roll potential that could increase his NBA purpose. According to DraftExpress, Clarkson was used in six pick-and-roll sets per game, ranking No. 5 in points per possession amongst point guards drafted.
Clarkson is a tough one-on-one cover, thanks to his deep repertoire of moves he uses to separate for a shot.
Between crossovers into jumpers, spins into runners, pull-ups over screens and step-backs off the bounce, Clarkson can create makable looks for himself from all over the half court.
And though shooting isn't a strength, he's a capable shot-maker. Before struggling this season with shooting inconsistency, he did hit 37.4 percent of his three-pointers as a sophomore at Tulsa. And he made 32 three-pointers this past season while shooting 83.1 percent from the stripe.
The primary concern with Clarkson stems from his questionable NBA identity.
He lacks traditional instincts of a point guard when it comes to decision-making, having averaged 3.4 assists to 2.7 turnovers last season. Clarkson has the tendency to develop tunnel vision or throw up a forced shot. Can he run an NBA offense?
And with the ability to shoot off the dribble becoming a must-have shot in every point guard's arsenal, his 32 percent conversion rate on pull-ups, per DraftExpress, is a disappointing number.
As an off-guard, DraftExpress had Clarkson hitting a dreadful 25 percent of his spot-up jumpers.
Clarkson was also used in a heavy 27.9 percent of Missouri's possessions last season, per sports-reference.com. How will he perform as a fourth or fifth option? Without a reliable spot-up jumper, will he be able to score efficiency playing off the ball?
These are questions that the Lakers' coaching staff will be asking, and ones that Clarkson will ultimately have to answer.
Between Lin, Steve Nash and potentially Kendall Marshall, there's a crowd of ball-handlers Clarkson will have to fight through in L.A. But with only one year left on Lin's deal, Nash's career coming to a close and Marshall not offering much upside, the Lakers would be crazy not to hand Clarkson a contract.
Assuming he makes the team, it might take some poor guard play, an injury or a losing streak for Clarkson to crack the rotation early on. But based on his productive junior year at Missouri and his summer league results, I'd imagine he's got a future in Los Angeles.
Clarkson projects as an offensive weapon and secondary ball-handler that can spark a team off the bench. That jumper might ultimately make or break him as a pro, but he's got the tools and talent to find a niche as a reserve playmaker and scorer.
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