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Lakers draft standings: Jeremy Lin and Jordan Clarkson tack on a 3-game winning streak

Checking in on the flaming wreckage that is left of the Lakers tank.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to TANK WATCH, loyal reader. The All-Star Break left this column on a two and a half week hiatus. Let's check in on the Lakers' tank:



A three-game winning streak. From this Lakers team. Unbelievable.

Even after a Sunday loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers are left with just a 1.5 game "lead" on the Orlando Magic for the 4th best lottery odds.

Screenshot courtesy of Tankathon

So just how did the Lakers experience so much success over a one week period? What led to a streak during which they won almost a fourth of the amount of games they had won total to that point? I decided it was worth taking a look at the numbers behind the Lakers newfound success in this week's special extra-long edition of Anti-Tank Mine.

Stats via

Three Mines for Three Wins

Mine #1 - Jordan Clarkson is Scorching

The rookie fell back to earth on Sunday, but take a look at his shot chart over the Lakers three-game winning streak:

Bruno Mars, what do you think of that shot chart?

Three games is basically the definition of a small sample size, but that chart is pure fire. In those three wins, Clarkson shot a scintillating 63.6% from the field, good for second best on the team behind Ed Davis' 66.7%.

The Mizzou product also flashed his still growing play-making ability, assisting on 27% of the Lakers field goals while on the floor. By the eye test, Clarkson looks to be playing much more in control, and many of those mid-range attempts shown above were after stopping on a dime (either in transition or on a drive to the basket) and pulling up for a jumper.

This success rate is unsustainable (second round rookies do not shoot 63.6% over a prolonged period of time), but the encouraging signs keep coming that Clarkson can have a future in the league.

Mine #2 - The Return of Linsanity

I will grant you the headline is a bit hyperbolic, but Jeremy Lin was pretty damn good in those three Lakers wins. Lin had a slight uptick in field goal percentage (45.9% versus 43.5% on the season) and took nearly 4 more shots a game to average 15.7 points over that one week span.

More impressive than his scoring was Lin's distribution, or more his lack of distributing the ball to the other team. Over the course of the 2014-15 season, Lin has coughed up the ball an average of 2.2 times per game, but in the Lakers three recent victories he cut that number to 0.3. per game. Lin assisted on 25.4% of the Lakers' baskets while he was on the floor, and posted a positively Chris Paul "Point God"-esque assist-to-turnover ratio of 15(!).

To recap: If Lin is able to do tons of pick and rolls with Ed Davis and the other Lakers big men, he can do good things! If only there was a coach who had figured that out years ago and was an option to coach the Lakers this year.

Mine #3 - Wesley Johnson Playing Like a Former Fourth Overall Pick

Not even Kevin Ding could be upset at Johnson's play during the Lakers' win streak. Like Lin, Johnson thrived in his bench role, shooting 53.8% from the field and 40% from behind the arc.

The biggest difference in his percentages? Johnson making 50% of his mid-range jumpers, and 83.3% of his shots at the rim. The much-maligned swingman also played some active defense, and even got out in transition for victory exclamation mark dunks:

26 shots is an exceedingly small sample size, but this was the idealized version of Wesley Johnson, where he puts all of his talents together at the same time and uses his superb athleticism to shine. If Johnson's career has shown observers anything so far, it is that this will not continue.

The confluence of these factors and more led to:

The Lakers' Juggernaut Net Differential

Mark it down in history lest we ever forget: For one week in 2015, the Los Angeles Lakers outscored their opponents by an average of 7.2 points per 100 possessions, good for the fourth best such margin in the association over that period.

For context, a plus 7.2 Net Rating over the entire season would be better than all teams in the NBA this year except for the borderline-unstoppable Golden State Warriors and their plus 11.7 average.

So, can all of this continue? Will the Lakers assuredly lose their pick? The short answer is no. As anyone who watched the Lakers play against the Thunder sans Westbrook and Durant on Sunday could tell you, the Lakers are still a very bad team.

Just look at the factors of their success cited above: Jordan Clarkson's mid-range shooting, Jeremy Lin avoiding turnovers, and Wesley Johnson's hot shooting/consistency.  None of these things can continue at such a high level over the Lakers' remaining games. Whether or not they led to the Lakers losing out on a top five pick is yet to be determined.

Quick hitters on the rest of these because there was not a lot of actual tanking this week.

Tank Commander

Ronnie Price

Ronnie never got to win this award this season, and now he is lost for the year. Price was a professional throughout the year, one who set a good example for Clarkson to follow. While he did not play well this season, he should never have been thrust into a role as large as the one he received.

His contributions to the tank will be missed, and we are grateful for his effort and heart.

Tank Reinforcements

Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves

This is cheating a bit, because the Wolves were already named in this space once, when I predicted they would play better with the return of Ricky Rubio to the lineup. What I did not know about then was the triumphant return of Kevin Garnett. KG's once prodigious skills have diminished, but the mental lifting effect the ever-quotable power forward appears to be having upon the franchise cannot be easily dismissed.

The Wolves are 5-5 in their last 10 games, and while they play a tougher schedule than the Lakers the rest of the way, they also have a far more talented team. The race for the third spot is not over yet.

You can follow this author @hmfaigen