The signing of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope last month was certainly a welcome addition to the Los Angeles Lakers’ upstart core.
However, it could also be a signal for Filipino-American guard Jordan Clarkson to most likely come off the bench at the shooting guard position.
Despite potentially logging in fewer minutes next season, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson believes Clarkson will continue to be a vital cog for the team.
The player-turned-executive bared his lofty expectations for the 25-year-old former second-round pick and even issued a personal challenge.
“I have challenged him because I want him to be Sixth Man of the Year,” Johnson described Clarkson to Serena Winters of Lakers Nation.
“I’ve challenged him to play like that, I think he has the potential, the talent, he’s worked hard this summer,” he said.
With talks of winning the league’s most prestigious award for a substitute, Johnson couldn’t help but compare Clarkson to his former “Showtime” stablemate, 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,” he 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 4th quarter and guess who’s supposed to be in the game in the 4th quarter?” Magic added.
During his first three seasons in the league, Clarkson put up solid numbers of 14.7 points, 2.6 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals.
His flexibility to play both guard spots has been a ray of light for the California-based franchise, which Magic believes will translate even more in his incoming fourth year.
“Now we’re excited about our season. He’s gonna play a major role in us being a better team this year,” Magic said of Clarkson.
“We felt we put some weapons around him that would even make his game better.” Khristian Ibarrola /ra
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