Jordan Clarkson's phenomenal rookie season has come to an end as the team announced he will sit out of the Los Angeles Lakers' regular season finale against the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night. He injured his ankle during the Lakers' game in Sacramento on Monday, finally checking out in the final minute of the game.
Clarkson became the first Lakers player to earn Rookie of the Month honors, becoming one of the bright spots for the team this season. Jordan ends his rookie campaign averaging 11.9 points, 3.5 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.5 turnovers per game while shooting 45 percent from the field. It's his post All-Star break development, however, that really set Clarkson's season apart.
Through the final 28 games of the season Clarkson significantly increased all of his averages while becoming the Lakers' dedicated starting point guard. He's been one of the best rookies all season, leading our very own Ben Rosales to making a case for a first team All-Rookie selection. Grantland's Zach Lowe shares the sentiment, as he recently selected Clarkson over Marcus Smart for his season-ending awards:
Smart brings a singular skill — on-ball defense — that shines brighter than any one thing Clarkson does, but Clarkson's mature all-around play on offense is enough to win by a nose.4 This is not a case of a young talent gunning for numbers on a go-nowhere team bereft of any other perimeter options.
Clarkson could have played that way. Lord knows some of his teammates have been chasing stats as they approach free agency. But he's been thoughtful on the pick-and-roll, slowing down to manipulate the defense, seeking out pocket passes, and steadying himself for a reliable midrange pull-up. Clarkson has a nice pick-and-roll chemistry with Tarik Black, which is a sentence that somehow applies to a team that had Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, and Steve Nash two years ago.
Not bad for a player Mitch Kupchak traded cash considerations for at the 46th spot in the draft. It's unfortunate he won't close out the season, but he's done more than enough and if he's hurting, the kid more than deserves a night off.
Job well done, Jordan.